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Full text of "It's a good old world, being a collection of little essays on various subjects of human interest"

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Author of "More Power to You," "The 
Making of George Groton," etc. 



Copyright, 1920, by 


Magazine editors are genial gentle 
men. They pay us for the pieces we write 
and allow us to gather them later into 
books. To Karl Harriman, editor of the 
" Red Book" ; George Martin, editor of 
"Farm and Fireside"; Harford Powel, 
editor of "Collier s Weekly"; W. W. 
Hawkins, General Manager of the United 
Press Associations, and Frank Ober, edi 
tor of " Association Men," who have given 
their cordial permission for the republica- 
tion of the little essays that follow, I ex 
press my gratitude and thanks. 

The book is named in honor of our 
common friend, this Good Old World. 
I admire the quiet, patient fashion in 
which he goes around about the same old 
task, day after day and year after year. 
I admire his magnificent tolerance toward 
all sorts and conditions of men, many of 


Between Ourselves 

whom must frequently prove very irritat 
ing passengers. And I want him to un 
derstand that if he has no objection I plan 
to ride along with him for another sev 
enty years at least. 

B. B. 









OUT 22 






















"!N A MANGER" 99 


HEAD 103 


MADE OF 107 







OUT 128 


You 133 




WIVES 140 


WORLD 149 













JOB 191 




You? 212 







A READER writes to reprove me be 
cause a statement in a recent edi 
torial apparently contradicts something 
which I wrote a year ago. 

" A writer ought at least to be consist 
ent," he says. Which, of course, is the 
last thing that any writer below the age 
of ninety < ought to be too much con 
cerned about. 

For it is the business of men, whether 
writers or not, to see truth and to express 
it in their lives. That a man should see 
more truth this year than he saw last, and 
should hope to see even more in the year 
to come, is a perfectly normal expectation. 
And inevitably the larger vision of this 
year will reveal the shortcomings of the 


4 It s a Good Old World 

I talked the other day with the president 
of one of the nation s greatest businesses. 
Said he: 

" I go down to my office these days with 
my mind absolutely open ; I am prepared at 
a moment s notice to reverse our entire 
business practice, if the conditions demand 
it. With the world in tumult as it is to 
day, the concern which says, We have al 
ways done it this way, or Such and such 
a course is not in line with our previous 
policy, is riding for a fall. 

" A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin 
of little minds," Emerson exclaimed. 
" With consistency a great soul has simply 
nothing to do. He may as well concern 
himself with his shadow on the wall. Out 
upon your guarded lips! ... If you 
would be a man, speak what you think to 
day in words as hard as cannon-balls, and 
to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks 
in hard words again, though it contradict 
everything you said to-day. Ah, then, 
exclaim the aged ladies, you shall be sure 
to be misunderstood! Misunderstood! 
It is a fool s word. Is it so bad, then, to 

Consistent After Ninety 5 

be misunderstood? Pythagoras was mis 
understood, and Socrates, and Jesus and 
Copernicus and Galileo and Newton and 
every pure and wise spirit that ever took 
flesh. To be great is to be misunder 

The butterfly is not consistent with the 
chrysalis: nobody expects a frog to con 
form to the standards of the tadpole. 
Nature is herself the great parent of con 
tradictions; and nothing in her universe is. 
perfectly consistent but the eternal hills, 
and old dogs who lie all day in the sun 
shine, and men whose brains have hardened 
into shells. 

A man owes this obligation to himself 
that he should keep his vision high and his 
footsteps fixed in the path that leads to 
ward the stars. Sometimes that path will 
lie straight and clear; sometimes it will 
bend to the left or right; and sometimes he 
may have to retrace his steps in order to 
fix his feet firmly upon it. When that 
necessity arises, there should be no hesita 

I like to remember Dr. David Swing, 

6 It s a Good Old World 

who was for many years pastor of the 
Brick Presbyterian Church on Fifth Ave 
nue. Through a long lifetime he ex 
pounded the truth to his people as his spirit 
revealed it to him. And at the very end of 
his days new truth came to him, and he 
rose in his pulpit and confessed frankly 
that all of his previous preaching had been 
in large measure mistaken. 

St. Augustine, toward the end of his 
career, published a good-sized book called 
" Retractions." Only a big man could 
have written such a book; for only a big 
man continues to grow straight up to the 
very last. 

Be not too fearful of inconsistencies-; 
for if you are growing as you should be 
growing, consistency, which is the harden 
ing of the mental and spiritual arteries, 
ought not to set in 

until you are ninety, at least. 


THE Prince was to ride up the Avenue, 
and we all put on our hats and went 
out onto the side-walk to cheer. 

As he came along smiling, with his hat 
on the side of his head, I could not help 
marvelling a little at the changes time can 

My first ancestor in this country, 
William, spent several of the best years of 
his life fighting the Prince s ancestor, 

For many, many years dislike and dis 
trust of the English were fed to us from 
the pages of our first readers. 

Emerson s poem expressed the common 
American judgment about the gentlemen 
who sit on thrones: 

God said " I am tired of Kings, 
I suffer them no more. 
Up to my ear the morning brings 
The outrage of the poor." 


Yet here was I, the descendant of a 
Revolutionary fighter, taking time away 
from the office to cheer for the son of a 
King, and an English King at that. 

The explanation, of course, is simple. 
It is not we who have changed, but the 
kings. They have at last found a real job 
for themselves, and we respect them, as 
we respect any man who has work to do 
and does it well. 

They are now the travelling salesmen 
of their countries. 

Take the Belgians for example. Be 
fore the war we looked on them as a rather 
unattractive people inclined to squalidness 
both physical and mental. 

Along comes Albert, their sales man 
ager, with his sample case and opens it be 
fore us. He has a fine line of courtesy; 
something very nice in the way of true 
sportsmanship; a very superior article of 
good looks; and an entirely modern and 
up-to-date sense of humor. 

After we have seen the samples it is no 
great task for him to sell us quite a differ 
ent idea of the Belgians. We will be 

Watching the Prince 9 

much more inclined, in the future, to give 
them what every people have the right to 
demand the privilege of being judged 
by their best rather than by their less at 
tractive characteristics. 

So with Edward of the firm of Great 
Britain and Co. 

He knows well enough that our dealings 
with his House have not been altogether 
satisfactory in the past. He comes with 
the idea of straightening out all the old 
complaints and convincing us that this 
year s line is entirely unlike anything we 
have previously bought. 

Are we too much stocked-up with the 
old style Englishman side whiskers 
prejudices stodginess lack of humor 
and all? 

" That s our pre-war brand," says Ed 
ward. " We Ve entirely discarded that. 
The House is under new management and 
we re putting out a very superior article. 

" Here s a sample of our smiles you 
never knew an Englishman could smile. 

" Here s a choice bit of democracy 
which we Ve recently added to the line. 

10 It s a Good Old World 

" Notice this patent bit of openmind- 
edness, an exclusive feature of this year s 

He s a good little salesman with a win 
ning smile; and I for one am all prepared 
to put the old prejudices aside and open a 
good line of credit with his House. 

I know a man who has a curious job. 
He is paid just to visit conventions and 
banquets of his company s customers and 
tell funny stories. 

No spasm of economy ever endangers 
his weekly envelope. He is one of the 
most valuable assets that the corporation 

That s the proper kind of a job for a 
king. Japan should send her Emperor 
sales-manager over as soon as possible. 
Alphonso of Spain would find this a very 
profitable territory. Italy s Victor Em- 
nanuel had better pack his bag and get 
some expense account blanks printed. 

And we, who have no kings, should elect 
a half dozen good looking chaps with a 
Roosevelt smile and a first class fund of 
funny stories to show our customers across 

Watching the Prince II 

the two oceans what a fine lot of folks we 
really are. 

The League of Nations will be success 
ful just in proportion to the amount of in 
telligent high-powered salesmanship that 
is put behind it. 

Every king should plan to live half the 
time in a suit case; and every Prince, no 
matter what his title, should consider that 
he draws his salary for being a Prince of 

" WHY " 

A SUCCESSFUL man whom I know 
recently changed from a business 
with which he was thoroughly familiar to 
a business that he knew absolutely nothing 

I watched to see what he would do. 

For two solid weeks he did nothing but 
ask questions. 

He took a train to Washington to learn 
what information the government had on 
trade conditions in the new field. 

He visited around among jobbers and 
manufacturers: he even went to the com 
pany s strongest competitors. 

Everywhere asking questions. It was 
simply amazing, the amount of useful data 
that he was able to dig out. 

Curiosity is a human characteristic that 
has been much maligned. Men speak of 
it slightingly, as if it were something to be 

A Great Word Is "Why" 13 

ashamed of; a weakness to be repressed. 

My own idea is that when a man gets 
beyond the point of asking questions, he 
might as well be dead. 

Without curiosity there would be no 
growth, no progress. 

Theirs not to make reply, 
Theirs not to reason why, 

may be a good enough motto for men who 
are on their way to be shot. But from 
such men expect no empires to be builded, 
no inventions made, no great discoveries 
brought to light. 

Curiosity [the " Scientific American " once 
said] is the hand-maiden of Science. 

No doubt many a man before the time of 
Columbus had remarked the exotic fruits and 
branches tossed up by the waves on the shores 
of the Canary Islands. The natives had gath 
ered them for generations without ever so much 
as a thought. But to Columbus those strange 
gifts of the sea were messages sent from a land 
where no European ship had ever touched. Out 
of his wonder about them came his voyage to 
the New World. 

14 It s a Good Old World 

Then we have Newton s apple. Things have 
fallen ever since the universe was created. And 
no man before Newton seems ever to have asked 
himself, Why? 

Robert Meyer, a ship s surgeon in the East 
Indies, noticed that the venous blood of his pa 
tients seemed redder than that of people living in 
temperate climates. Doubtless other physicians 
had also noticed that fact. Meyer, pondering 
on it, reached the conclusion that the cause must 
be the lesser degree of oxidation required to keep 
up the body temperature in the torrid zone. 
That thought led to the discovery of the me 
chanical theory of heat, and to the first compre 
hensive appreciation of the great law of the con 
servation of energy. 

If you have witnessed the gradual prog 
ress of the mind of a little baby, you have 
seen a miracle. 

And what is the golden ladder on which 
the baby climbs out of mere consciousness 
into intelligence? 

Curiosity nothing else. The con 
stant reaching out for the untried (even 
though the reaching involves much up 
setting of flower vases, and many burned 

A Great Word Is "Why" 15 

and bleeding fingers) , the eternal why: the 
unquenchable how and what. 

Some men climb a little way up that lad 
der, and are satisfied. 

They reach a point where the day s task 
becomes more or less automatic; where 
their feet follow easily along a familiar 
path. And they are content. They 
would not pay a nickel to see an earth 
quake : they would not open a new book, 
or stretch their minds in wonder at what 
lies even beyond the next desk above them, 
to say nothing of what lies beyond the 

Ceasing to be curious, they cease to 

For surely one secret of genius is this 
the ability to remain interested in new 
things, even into old age. 

The curiosity of Bluebeard s wife proved 
fatal, to be sure ; and Lot s wife, yielding 
to her curiosity, reaped a bitter recom 

One must use judgment in the exercise 
of even the divinest gifts. 

On the other hand, 

1 6 It s a Good Old World 

Zacchaeus he 

Did climb a tree, 

His Lord to see. 

And, braving the ridicule of the passing 
crowd for the sake of his curiosity, he was 
rewarded with the secret of happiness and 
everlasting life. 


THE future of Germany, I presume, is 
no particular concern of mine. Yet 
I keep thinking what a tragic position hers 
must be for many years to come. 

Some day, soon or late, Germany, with 
the others, will send out her ambassadors 
to the world. 

He will come to Washington Herr 
von Somebody, and, smiling graciously, 
will tell us how eager his government is to 
resume friendly relations with us. 

And all the time he is talking it will be 
running through the back of our minds: 
Yes, that is what Von Bernstorff said, at 
the same time when he was trying to blow 
up our factories, and league Japan and 
Mexico against us." 

Another German ambassador will go to 
Buenos Aires. " I present the compli- 

i8 It s a Good Old World 

ments of the German government," he will 

And the President of Argentina will be 
wondering to himself: " Is this the same 
government whose envoy suggested that 
our boats be sunk so as to leave no trace ? " 

German salesmen will hurry out across 
the world with their sample cases, protest 
ing the value of their goods. 

And men will wonder whether the state 
ments behind those goods are like the state 
ments made by the German government 
to the United States when the Sussex was 

Bitter as the days are for Germany 
now, the days to come will be more bit 

For her government ruthlessly tor 
pedoed the good ship Faith: it cut the 
cables of mutual trust by means of which 
men have been accustomed to communicate 
with each other. And the rest of the 
world stood aghast. 

Few things in civilization are more in 
spiring than the slow increase of men s 
faith in one another. 

A Stock of Camouflage 19 

When the Psalmist exclaimed, " I said 
in my haste, All men are liars," he was not 
far wrong. 

To lie, to cheat, to get the better of a 
competitor by any hook or crook, was the 
standard practice of early business. 

The Phoenicians and Greeks, trading 
with the tribes along the Mediterranean, 
used to land on the shore, pile up their 
goods, and then put out a little way in their 
boats again. 

Out from their hiding place would come 
the natives to pile up beside those goods 
the articles which they offered in exchange, 
and having done it they would hide them 

Both sides wanted to do business, but 
neither party trusted the members of the 
other enough to appear beside them on the 

In religion as well as business the rule of 
fraud was the accepted rule. 

" I will sacrifice ten heads to Zeus if I be 
delivered from this sickness," the pious 
Greek would exclaim. 

And being delivered he would sacrifice 

20 It s a Good Old World 

cabbage heads instead of heads of cattle, 
and receive the congratulations of his 
friends upon the cleverness of his ruse. 

Little by little the world has grown 
away from this kind of practice. 

As the coral reef grows by the addition 
of one tiny organism after another, so has 
Faith grown in the world each genera 
tion raising it a bit higher by the addition 
of its honesty and trust, until all business 
has come to be done on men s confidence in 
each other s words. 

That slow, painfully wrought creation, 
Germany with wanton hand demolished. 

We have heard much talk of camou 
flage, which is a fancy name for lying. Be 
not misled by that euphonious term. 

You will live to see a penalty visited on 
Germany for the slaughter of Truth such 
as has never been borne by any people 

You will see men s word to each other 
take on a new preciousness in the years to 
come, because of the terrible price which 
they will pay who have disregarded their 


In our generation it will be true as it 
never has been before that the highest 
honors will be reserved for the sort of 
man whom the Bible describes: 

The man who " sweareth to his own 
hurt, and changeth not." 


AMERICA was founded by people 
who wanted to get away from other 

The Pilgrim Fathers decided that they 
would rather run the risk of starving to 
death in a new, clean, unpeopled land than 
to live any longer with their neighbors. 

After them came men of various sorts: 
political offenders; Quakers who would 
rather emigrate than fight; Irishmen 
" ag in the government "; roving sons of 
settled households. 

All sorts of people, but driven by the 
same common motive the desire to live 
their own lives in their own way, free from 
the restrictions of an older social order. 

We are the descendants of those daring 
pioneers: their vigorous individualism 
flows through our veins. 

If, before the war, you had put your 

We re All in the Same Boat 23 

ambition into words, you would probably 
have expressed the wish to be absolutely 

I don t know what the war may have 
done to you, but to me it has revealed this 
one tremendous truth: that there is not, 
and never will be again, any absolute in 
dependence; that I, in my little home, am 
absolutely dependent, to some degree or 
other, on every other man and woman in 
the world. 

In the Balkans, an Austrian prince of 
whom I never heard, and his wife, are mur 
dered. A petty far-away event : what has 
it to do with me? 

Nothing, of course. Nothing ; except 
to throw my life into disorder, and change 
the whole thought and current of my days. 

In Russia twenty million men are taken 
from the farms; and, behold, the loaf of 
bread in my little home feels their leaving 
and fades away. Millions of shoes are 
ordered for the men of Italy: and the 
shoes I purchase for my baby cost four 
dollars now instead of two. 

Absolute independence ! What a fool- 

24 It s a Good Old World 

ish phrase, indeed! The world has be 
come a neighborhood, and the welfare of 
every single house along the street is con 
ditioned by the welfare of every other. 

There is hardly an item in the newspa 
pers that doesn t, somehow or other, come 
straight home to me. 

I read that the railroads are hard up 
and their stocks and bonds decline. I 
should worry: I own no stocks or bonds. 

Ah, but don t I, though? The savings 
bank where my few dollars lie has invested 
them in railroad bonds; the life-insurance 
company that must look after my wife and 
family if I die has invested its funds in 
railroad bonds. 

Whether I like it or not, the railroads 
can not be hurt without hurting me : for 
better or for worse, my prosperity is bound 
up with theirs. 

When the Apostle Paul was being sent 
to Rome, the ship on which he sailed was 
tossed by storms. 

At the moment of greatest danger Paul 
caught the sailors taking to the boats. 

We re All in the Same Boat $ 

"Stop ! "he cried; and to the Centurion 
he shouted: 

" Except these abide in the ship, ye can 
not be saved." 

To-day the good ship World is being 
tossed about by the greatest storm of its 

And now, in the time of greatest dan 
ger, I see some signs that are not good. 
I see some capitalists taking to the boats 
and saying to themselves: "We ll pull 
out and play safe, no matter what may 
happen to the ship." 

I see some groups of labor taking to the 
boats and saying to themselves: " When 
the ship is sinking is a good time to strike 
for higher pay." 

And if the lesson of the war means any 
thing, it seems to me to mean just this : 

That the time has passed in the world 
when any single group of men can ad 
vance its interests permanently at the ex 
pense of the common good. 

Unless all of us, rich and poor, stick to 
gether in the ship, then all of us are lost. 

26 It s a Good Old World 

Individualism, as we used to understand 
it, is dead. 

" God hath made of one blood all na 
tions." The same great life-giving cur 
rent flows through the veins of every class 
and race and people everywhere. And 
the only way to advance the interests of 
any class permanently is to purify and 
strengthen the stream of life that ministers 
to all. 

That, it seems to me, is one great lesson 
of this war. 


I VISITED once the boyhood home of 
a great man. 

His name will not go down in the his 
tories, but he has made a high place for 
himself in his profession; and in every 
city important people are glad to be 
counted among his friends. 

I spoke of this to one of the residents 
of the village who occupied a reserved seat 
in front of the livery stable. 

" It must be a matter of great pride to 
your town to have produced a man like 
that," I said. 

" You mean Joe Hinkle? " he answered. 

I nodded, and he uttered a scornful lit 
tle laugh. 

" Folks hereabouts don t think so much 
of Joe Hinkle," he commented. " We 
never supposed he d amount to anything. 
Why, gosh, I knew him when he was run- 


28 It s a Good Old World 

nin around with his pants held up by one 

I found more than one man in that com 
munity to echo the sentiment. They could 
not quit6 reconcile themselves to the 
thought that a boy who had been one of 
themselves should have travelled so far 
beyond them. 

Some years ago a song was popular in 
the vaudeville houses. It recounted the 
achievement of a certain John Dugan; and 
after each stanza the chorus broke in with 
an incredulous exclamation, " What! Lit 
tle Johnny Dugan?" 

" Little Johnny Dugan that little fel 
low who used to be around here you don t 
mean to tell me that he has been nominated 
for Governor; or elected President of a 
Bank or called to the Pastorate of a great 
church. Not our little Johnny Dugan. 
It can t be. Why we knew him when - 

The song reflected accurately the atti 
tude of too many home towns toward their 
boys. Many great men have suffered 
from that attitude: Jesus of Nazareth suf 
fered, perhaps, most keenly of all. 

" Little Johnny Dugan? 29 

After He had begun His ministry; after 
He had performed a few miracles in the 
cities near at hand and gained a consider 
able reputation, " He went back to Naz 
areth where He had been brought up." 

One can picture the anticipation with 
which He turned His face in that direction. 
He could imagine the warmth of His old 
neighbors greeting; the pride they would 
feel in His success which had brought 
credit to the town. 

But there was no warmth. Only skep 
ticism and jealousy and scorn. It was as 
if their faces cried: 

" We know you. Why you re only the 
son of the carpenter, Joseph. You may 
have fooled them in Capernaum, but you 
can t fool us." 

And there were those among them 
whose envy and bitterness would have led 
them to hurl Him to death. 

There are two ways to look at the folks 
around us, and particularly the younger 

One way is to get into the habit of re 
garding them as just common people, 

30 It s a Good Old World 

destined to failure or to only mediocre 
things; and to be surprised when they ex 
ceed our expectations. 

The other way is to form the habit of 
thinking of them in the biggest and best 
possible terms; of holding up the vision of 
large achievement before them and letting 
them understand that we expect them to 
climb high. 

Whichever attitude we adopt we re 
bound to suffer certain disappointments; 
but personally I prefer to be disappointed 
by news of failure rather than by news of 

When I hear that Johnny Dugan has 
been sent to jail for forgery I expect to ex 
claim "What! Little Johnny Dugan?" 

But when they tell me that the Repub 
licans have nominated him for Governor 
they need n t expect me to express surprise, 
even though he has red hair and never 
owned two suits of clothes as a boy. 

Governor Johnny Dugan " Of course : 
I always said you could n t keep that boy 


AT the very beginning of the war Lord 
Kitchener announced to his people 
that it would last for at least three years. 

I can remember now the editorial that 
appeared in one of the most sedate and 
respected of our newspapers, taking him to 
task for his foolish statement. It was the 
one-sided view of a purely military man, 
said the editor. A three-years war was 
unthinkable : the common sense of the 
world would not permit it. 

Kitchener is dead; but Kitchener was 

He was not a very brainy man. On the 
contrary, his teachers found him rather 
dull and listless: men who conversed with 
him were embarrassed by his mental slow 
ness. I will venture to say that the editor 
who wrote that article criticizing him was 
far more than his equal in all-round intelli 
gence. But Kitchener s teachers noted 

32 It s a Good Old World 

one bright spot in his otherwise indifferent 
school-record : he was very good at mathe 

I sometimes think there should have 
been another Beatitude: Blessed are the 
mathematicians, for they shall inherit the 

It is the nature of us common folks to 
live on hope instead of facts. The eyes 
that we turn to the future are fitted with 
rose-tinted glasses. We see coming events 
shaping themselves as we would like to 
have them shape themselves. The thing 
that should be is the thing that will be, in 
all our prophecies. 

Those cynical gentlemen who make their 
living on the stock-exchange recognize 
that quality in us and trade upon it. The 
public is always " bullish," in their par 
lance by which they mean that every 
common man of us believes that the shares 
of stock which he has bought are sure some 
day to sell higher. We hold on to our 
shares, disregarding danger-signals, and 
long after the professional has begun to 
sell, we are buying still. 

First Look at the Figures 33 

One reason why the prophet is never 
honored in his own country is that the 
true prophet must so often foretell unpleas 
ant things ; and the world does not like to 
face unpleasant things. 

Hope springs eternal in the human breast; 
Man never is, but always to be blest. 

No man among us would want to see 
that divine spark of hopefulness lost out 
of human character. Nevertheless in our 
optimism we would do well to remember 
this that hope based on hard facts, on 
a willingness to face the truth, is a thou 
sand times more useful than hope based on 
nothing but other hopes. 

"Read Luke xiv:3i," wired Cecil 
Rhodes to Dr. Jameson before the latter 
set out on his celebrated raid. 

And Jameson, calling for a Bible, turned 
to that verse and read: 

Or what king, going to make war against an 
other king, sitteth not down first and consulteth 
whether he be able with ten thousand to meet 
him that cometh against him with twenty thou 

34 It s a Good Old World 

It is a good verse to read occasionally in 
days like these. 

Apply it to your own affairs. Have 
you had occasion lately to take account of 
stock? Do you know in black and white 
just what the chances for you and against 
you are? 

Suppose to-day you figure them up care 
fully and courageously, giving the odds 
against you full credit for their strength. 
If you are the man you ought to be, you 
will not be dismayed, no matter how strong 
the adverse figures may appear. 

Indeed, you will find fresh courage in 
the fact that you have taken the full meas 
ure of your enemies that the power 
which you present against them is made 
up not merely of hope, but of hope rein 
forced and made vital by fact. 


OVER at Ellis Island they are holding 
a big catch of anarchists and Bolshe 
viks, waiting for a boat to Russia whose 
owners don t care what kind of cargo it 

They are not an attractive looking 

Most of them were poor, oppressed ref 
ugees fleeing from government or hunger 
when they came to us. We took them in, 
warmed them, fed them, gave them more 
money than they had ever had before; 
and while we were busy in the front yard, 
beating off a mob of Germans, they stayed 
behind in our home and plotted to destroy 
the furniture, turn out the members of the 
family and keep the house and all our pos 
sessions for themselves. 

That sort of ingratitude the utter 


36 It s a Good Old World 

lack of any moral sense is peculiarly ir 
ritating. So our government thinks it 
wise to send them back where they came 
from lest we might some day lose our 
self-control and be tempted to do them 
bodily injury. 

It" is one solution of the situation, but 
not a very satisfactory one. They will be 
just as bad neighbors in any other country 
and there is always the chance that they 
may escape and appear in our midst again. 

A far better way would be to deal with 
them as Milton tells us the first Bolshe 
viks were dealt with. 

Things in Heaven were going pretty 
well when a crowd of ungrateful spirits, 
headed by a gentleman named Satan, de 
cided to overthrow the government and 
seize the kingdom for themselves. 

They were defeated but no attempt was 
made to imprison them. 

Instead they were given a secluded 
place all their own and allowed to do with 
it as they would. 

It, was an absolutely free place. No 
one had to work; all authority was re- 

Our Island of Yap 37 

moved; there were none of the improve 
ments that had existed in Heaven. 

Of course they made a very distressing 
discovery: they found that the worst pun 
ishment that could be visited upon them 
was the necessity of living with themselves. 

"Which way I fly is Hell; myself am 
Hell," Satan exclaimed. He would gladly 
have made any surrender to get back to 
the Heaven whose government he had 
sought to overthrow. But the gate was 

I understand we received a prize at the 
Paris peace conference named the Island 
of Yap. I have never seen it; I do not 
know exactly where it is. But it sounds 
like a fine place to send Bolsheviks. 

Why not buy out the present inhabitants 
and turn the Island over to the folks who 
don t like the way we run things here and 
are sure they could do it so much better? 

Let them organize to suit themselves. 
Have no house-rules except the rule that 
no member may leave the island. 

That seems to have been the divine plan 
of dealing with their forebears. When 

38 It s a Good Old World 

they rebelled against the Heaven God was 
conducting, He gave them a Heaven of 
their own. 

And they promptly made it Hell. 


THERE is a strange fact about busi 
ness that I have noticed many times. 

It may be expressed in this apparently 
senseless phrase: 

A little too much is just enough. 

A young man came to me yesterday to 
tell me his boss had been fired. 

I was sorry for the boss; glad for the 
young man; and glad for myself. It 
proved me, for once, a good prophet. 

For the same young man had met me 
three months ago and complained of his 
lot. His boss was loafing on the job, he 
said, leaving all the work of the depart 
ment to him. " He gets the money, and 
I do the work," the young man exclaimed. 
"What shall I do?" 

I told him to do more work. 

" But I m doing too much already! " he 

" I know it," I said. " Do more. Do 
so much more that everybody in the office 



will notice it. Then see what happens." 

Well, it happened. The boss is fired: 
and he has the boss s job. 

I read a great deal of biography: it is 
my favorite kind of reading. And noth 
ing impresses me so much as to see how 
hard the great men of the world have 

Almost without exception, they have 
done more work than they needed to do: 
more work that the average man would 
have been willing to do : more than 

Take this extract from a book recently- 
published the life of Delane, the great 
editor of the London " Times." 

He read and edited himself everything that 
was to appear in the paper next morning 
telegrams, correspondents letters, the reports of 
Parliament. He selected the letters addressed to 
the " Times " that were to be published: he chose 
the books that were to be reviewed : he was 
scrupulous as to the way in which even small 
matters of social interest were announced and 
handled. This method of editing was infinitely 
laborious. Even when the " Times " was much 

The Second Mile 41 

less than its present size, the task of reading, cor 
recting, and controlling from forty to fifty col 
umns of new matter every night was immense. 
But Delane never shrank from it. 

I know editors getting fifty dollars a 
week who would consider themselves 
abused beyond endurance if any one sug 
gested a day s work like Delane s. 

Doubtless there were plenty of editors 
in London in Delane s own day who 
thought him a fool to work so hard. // 
there were, we do not know their names. 

Posterity seldom does know the names 
of the men who are careful not to work too 

Dickens began life as a stenographer. 

How hard I worked at that tremendous short 
hand and all the improvements pertaining to it! 
[he exclaimed]. I will only add to what I have 
already written of my perseverance at that time 
of my life and the patient, continuous energy 
which then began to be matured in me, and which 
I know to be the strong point of my character, if 
I have any strength at all, that there, on looking 
back, I find the source of my success. 

Bishop Butler worked twenty years on 

42 It s a Good Old World 

his " Analogy," and then wanted to burn 
it because he thought it not good enough. 
George Eliot read more than a thousand 
volumes before she began to write " Dan 
iel Deronda." 

Patient, continuous, ceaseless work. 
What the ordinary writer would have 
called too much the extraordinary writer 
thought hardly enough. 

There is a verse in that great text-book 
on modern business, the Bible, which 
sums it all up : 

" And whosoever shall compel thee to 
go a mile, go with him twain." 

Whosoever hires you to work eight 
hours, take advantage of him by working 
a little longer: whosoever compels you to 
do a certain task, do more than you con 
tract to do. 

It s the second mile that counts. All 
biography is a record of that truth: all 
business experience attests it. 

The work that no man compels you to 
do is the work for which the world pays 

A little too much is just enough. 


IT S a very old, old story; but it never 
needed retelling so much as in this 
present hour. 

His name was Joseph, and he was car 
ried away from home, and found himself 
in Egypt, a strange new land. 

Because he was good-looking, and intel 
ligent, and a hard worker, he rose rapidly 
until he became prime minister. Except 
the king there was no other man in Egypt 
more influential or more celebrated. 

His relatives learned of his rise with 
interest. They followed into Egypt, and 
with his help they, too, prospered and were 
likewise influential. 

It looked as though they were perma 
nently provided for; as though nothing 
could happen to dislodge them. 

But in a single generation ; yes, in a little 
fraction of a generation, the unbelievable 
occurred. The people who were so con 
tented, so free from all concern, were 


44 It s a Good Old World 

hurled from their high position into the 
bitterness of slavery. 

The thing that had happened to them 
is recorded in a single sentence. Joseph 

" And there arose a new king in Egypt, 
which knew not Joseph." 

Only a few years since Joseph s death 
and the new King knew nothing about him 
and cared less. His name had been a by 
word in the ancient world : but a few peo 
ple passed away, some new ones were born, 
and presto, he was as much forgotten as 
though he had never lived. 

I would print that story large upon the 
office walls of thousands of men in these 
changing days. 

On the walls of business men, for ex 

Only last week I talked with a man 
who told me that his company controlled 
seventy-five percent of the business in its 
line a quarter of a century ago. 

Today the company controls less than 
twenty percent. The men who owned it 
had grown self-satisfied; and almost over 

" Which Knew Not Joseph " 45 

night a new, virile competitor arose, and 
with advertising pushed the older company 
from its place of power. 

Our fathers knew that older company 
well; but you and I have hardly heard its 

A new generation has arisen, a new king, 
which knows not Joseph. 

I would print it on the walls of writers, 
and of preachers, and of law-makers, and 
of every man who wants to see the race 

You think that you have told your story 
to the world, and that therefore your task 
is done. I tell you that over night a new 
world has been born that has never heard 
your story. 

You think because the Gospel has been 
preached for 1,900 years that by that 
preaching the race must automatically be 

Every sermon preached as long ago 
as yesterday is already dead. 

A little slackening of the effort; a little 
moment of self-satisfaction, and all the 
momentum gained by years of work is lost. 

46 // s a Good Old World 

For the world moves swifter today than 
ever before in its history. And even in 
the very instant of your self-content, the 
silence is shattered by the trampling of 
new feet. 

Behold another generation has come, a 
new king who knows no precedents, in 
whose experience nothing is fixed: 

A king in whose sight yesterday has been 
cold a thousand years; a king which knows 
not Joseph. 


SOME weeks ago I left New York, 
where the talk was all of labor 
troubles and industrial unrest. Employ 
ers were locking the doors against their 
workmen; and labor leaders were calling 
out their followers on strike. 

I went up into the middle of the State to 
an industrial city of twenty-two thousand 

The vice-president of one of the large 
plants there took me around in his auto 

" Any labor trouble? " I asked. 

" Not a bit." 

" Ever had a strike? " 

" Not in seventy-five years. Why, if 
we did n t read the newspapers, we would 
hardly know what the word means." 

Later in the afternoon I sat in the office 
of the president of another factory in the 


48 // s a Good Old World 

same city. It is no small plant ; the owners 
are just breaking ground for an addition 
that will cost more than a million dollars. 
Only one other company in its line does a 
larger annual business. 

As I sat talking with the president, the 
door opened and the shipping-clerk came 

" Shall we prepay that shipment to 
Louisville, Charley?" the shipping-clerk 

" We will this time, Al," the president 

I gasped. A concern whose goods are 
sold from coast to coast, a concern whose 
owners can build a million-dollar addition 
without asking any outside help ! And 
the shipping-clerk calls the president 

In that instant a big light dawned for 
me. I got a picture of a social organiza 
tion far different from anything we resi 
dents of the big cities know. 

Charley, the president, owns his own 
home; so does Al, the shipping-clerk. 
Charley raises vegetables in the back-yard, 

He Called the President 49 

to cut down his cost of living. So also 
does Al. 

Charley s children go to the same school 
with Al s. Al s wife rides out occasion 
ally with Charley s in the automobile. 
And Charley s wife calls on Al s when 
there is a new baby, or one of the older 
children is sick. 

No jealousy, no suspicion. No profi 
teering on one side, or holding back on the 
other. The company is our company, not 
the company, to every man and woman 
in it. 

From our present social troubles we are 
bound to reap some very large rewards. 
The troubles look black enough at times. 
It seems to have been decreed by Provi 
dence that the process of birth should never 
take place without the accompaniment of 
suffering and pain and tears. And it is a 
process of birth, not of death, that we are 
passing through in this reconstruction 
period. Out of it is going to come a new 
world a world in which things will be 
better for the average man than they ever 
were before. 

50 It s a Good Old World 

One of the developments, in my judg 
ment, will be the removal of a good many 
industries from the smoke-laden air of the 
cities to the pure air of the country. 

Where every family can have a home 
and a garden, and a man is a personality to 
his employer, not a number. 

Where it is harder to forget that the 
business of industry is to create human 
happiness as well as to multiply wealth. 

Where men stand side by side in mutual 
appreciation and respect 

And even a shipping-clerk named " Al " 
can call the president " Charley." 

RECENTLY a young man wrote to 
ask me how he could borrow a sum 
of money for a certain purpose. 

And I suggested that before he sought 
to borrow any money, he should read the 
biographies of Benjamin Disraeli and Bal 

I would advise any young man who con 
templates running in debt to read these two 

Here is a note from Disraeli s diary, De 
cember 5, 1836. What a tragic vision it 
presents one of the most brilliant men 
in England hesitating to accept a dinner- 
invitation for fear of being arrested for 
debt! He writes: 

"Our county Conservative Dinner, which 

will be the most important assembly of 

its kind yet held, takes place on the 9th 

inst. I have been requested to move the 


52 It s a Good Old World 

principal toast The House of Lords. I 
trust there is no danger of my being 
nabbed, . . . inasmuch as, in all proba 
bility, I am addressing my future constit 

In his later years Disraeli wrote these 

If youth but knew the fatal misery 
they are entailing on themselves the mo 
ment they accept a pecuniary credit to 
which they are not entitled, how they 
would start in their career! How pale 
they would turn ! How they would trem 
ble and clasp their hands in agony at the 
precipice on which they are disporting! 
Debt . . . hath a small beginning but a 
giant s growth and strength. When we 
make the monster, we make our master, 
who haunts us at all hours and shakes his 
whip of scorpions forever in our sight. 
Faustus, when he signed the bond with 
blood, did not secure a doom more terrific." 

How many hours of bitter agony and 
regret are mirrored in that paragraph! 

Balzac s life is even more pitiable. I 
know of no more pathetic picture in all 

A Course of Reading 53 

history than that of this great genius, toil 
ing relentlessly at his desk from two 
o clock in the morning, adding story to 
story and novel to novel afraid to pause 
for even a single hour lest his creditors 
close in upon him. 

There are, of course, exceptional cir 
cumstances under which a young man is 
justified in running into debt. His debt 
may secure an education, for example, and 
so add greatly to his earning power. But 
be very slow to assume that your circum 
stances are exceptional. 

Before you decide that you are justified 
in running into debt, read the lives of these 
two men, and the lives of Cicero, William 
IV, Bret Harte, Eugene Field and Mark 
Twain. They spent the best years of their 
lives in paying for dead horses. Each 
managed to be great in spite of constant, 
irritating financial worry. 

But the world will never know how much 
greater they might have been had their 
minds been wholly freed for constructive 
work instead of burdened with the misery 
of debt. 


WE had invited some friends to spend 
the evening with us ; and when they 
arrived, he was with them. Rather short, 
and almost bald he was, and his hand, 
when he offered it, was soft and ladylike. 
Altogether, he seemed to me about as in 
significant a bit of humanity as I had re 
cently encountered. 

I rather resented the fact that he had 
come along to destroy the balance of the 
party; and for some time we quite ignored 
him in the conversation. Then, out of 
common politeness, we addressed some 
question to him about the war. And an 
amazing thing took place. The little man 
spoke up with an amount of information 
and a calm confidence that were astonish 

We led him on from point to point; and 
always he answered modestly, but with 


An Insignificant Man 55 

facts that gripped our interest. From that 
moment the conversation of the evening 
centered about him. 

" Who is he? " I asked my friend in a 
whisper as he prepared to go. 

And he answered: "Why, don t you 
know? That is Jones, one of the greatest 
chemists in this country. The Govern 
ment sent for him when war was declared, 
and he probably knows as much about the 
real inside history of the past two years 
as any man in the United States." 

I only hoped, as I bade him good night, 
that he had not guessed, from my earlier 
attitude, how very insignificant and un 
worthy of attention I had considered him. 

Once upon a time an efficiency expert 
boasted to me that a single glance was 
enough to form his judgment of a man. 
No matter what the circumstances of the 
meeting, he said, he could rely upon his 
first impression. 

Perhaps he was right; but I doubt it. 
Would he, I wonder, have recognized in 
the shabby little lieutenant named Bona 
parte, wandering the streets of Paris, the 

56 It s a Good Old World 

man of destiny who was to conquer 

If he had stood on the sidewalk of Phila 
delphia when a crude lad walked by with 
a loaf of bread under each arm, would he 
have seen beneath that rough attire the 
philosopher and statesman Franklin? 

What about U. S. Grant, the middle- 
aged failure, delivering wood in St. Louis 
unkempt, unshaven, regarded by his 
neighbors as a ne er-do-well? 

God sends great souls into the world 
clothed oftentimes in curious attire. And 
one misses much good-fellowship who 
thinks that from what men seem to be he 
can determine offhand what they are. 

Along a country road in Palestine a 
group of tired men walked one afternoon 
toward sundown. 

" Go ahead to the next village," said 
their Leader, " and see if there we may find 
a place to sleep." 

After a little time they returned to say 
that the village would not receive them. 

It was a busy day in the village; the in 
habitants were preoccupied and proud : 

An Insignificant Man 57 

what were a few travel-stained pilgrims to 
them! They trusted their first impres 
sion; it was a group of weary fishermen 
whom they supposed they had refused. 

And so they lost for themselves and 
their village forever the opportunity to en 
tertain His disciples and their Lord. 




IF some one had asked me on a certain 
day in 1915 to name three permanent 
human institutions, I might have answered: 

The Papacy: the Bank of England: the 
Czar of Russia. 

Maybe, on consideration, I could have 
given a better answer; but offhand that 
sounds fairly reasonable. 

At nine o clock that morning, so far as 
we knew, the Czar of all the Russias was 
as firm on his throne as Gibraltar. In my 
morning paper at least, there was no hint 
to the contrary. 

And at six o clock we opened our eve 
ning papers to discover him a prisoner, and 
Russia on the threshold of immediate de 

It was the kind of mental shock that is 
good for us: the war was full of such 


A Moving Picture World 59 

We learned from it, in more dramatic 
fashion than ever before, this very neces 
sary truth that nothing is fixed, nothing 
is sure, nothing is changeless, in this whole 
wide world. 

A man told me the other day about a 
conversation he once held with Jay Gould. 

Gould got up from his desk, walked over 
to the wall, and pointing to a map of the 
United States, put his finger on the Mis 
souri Pacific Railroad. 

" There," he said, " is the finest railroad 
property in the United States." 

That conversation took place only about 
a quarter of a century ago. A few months 
ago the common stock of the Missouri Pa 
cific sold down to something like four dol 
lars, and the holders of it paid an assess 
ment of fifty dollars a share to rehabilitate 
the road. 

So confident were the shrewd investors 
of New England in the everlasting pros 
perity of the New York, New Haven & 
Hartford that they invested the funds of 
widows and orphans and institutions in its 
stock. Ten years ago there was not a 

60 It s a Good Old World 

banker in the United States who would 
have believed that stock could ever crum 
ble away. 

But the impossible happened : the 
change came. 

Suppose a man graduating from college 
at any time in the past twenty-five years 
had wanted to pick out an absolutely safe 
profession, one into which no unexpected 
change could possibly enter, what pro 
fession would he have chosen? 

Teaching in a college or university, prob 

University professors are almost never 
discharged: they are sure of work as long 
as children continue to be born into the 
world; and in old age they are taken care 
of by Carnegie pensions. 

So he might have argued to himself. 

But, behold, there comes a world war, 
taking away from a quarter to two-thirds 
of the students of our colleges with their 
tuition fees. The war ends; the students 
return; but the dollar has so shrunk in pur 
chasing power that every college professor 

A Moving Picture World 61 

in the land finds his secure living made 
suddenly precarious. 

When Darwin was making his studies 
in evolution, working out the law by which 
lower forms changed through the ages into 
higher, he came across certain forms of 
life that, for some reason or other, had 
been incapable of change. 

Their environment had shifted, but they 
failed to adapt themselves to the new en 

So the tide of progress moved on and 
left them, stranded wrecks on the shore. 

The business world is full of men of that 
sort. They say to themselves: " I know 
this job well enough to hold it the rest of 
my life. I can afford to take things a lit 
tle easier. Nothing can happen now to 
change my life." 

So, gradually, they lose the power of 
adaptation, which is the power of growth. 

They are perfectly typified by the man 
described in the Bible, who said to his soul : 

" Soul, thou hast much goods laid up 
for many years : take thine ease." 

62 It j 

That night he died. 

The one change which he had not fore 
seen came to him and found him un 


1 PRESUME the stage is partly re 
sponsible for it. Or perhaps the ear 
nest young novelists who live in small 
towns and write novels about American 

Anyway, some one or something has 
given us a portrait of the Successful Ameri 
can Business Man that is unlike any suc 
cessful American business man whom I 
have ever happened to meet. 

Our portrait represents him as snapping 
orders through a telephone while he 
munches his breakfast, stopping his auto 
mobile half way downtown to get off a 
couple of telegrams, rushing through a 
breathless day at the office, and dictating 
letters in his limousine all the way home. 

As a matter of fact, nothing has im 
pressed me as more characteristic of really 
big men than a certain suggestion of 
leisure, a kind of elevation above the lit- 


tie maelstrom of detail in which the aver 
age man is caught up and whirled through 
the day. 

He does big business without appearing 
too busy. You know, from the record of 
his achievements, that he must get through 
an enormous amount of work in a day: yet 
there seems to be nothing on his mind, 
when you meet him, but the subject you 
have come to discuss: and he apparently 
has all the time that is needed to discuss it. 

I talked one day with President Wilson. 
His desk was piled with commissions and 
bills waiting to be signed; it was a time of 
great perplexity in foreign relations. I 
had rather expected to be warned by his 
secretary that I must leave in ten minutes, 
and to have those ten minutes frequently 

But the President talked for forty min 
utes. He pushed back from his desk and 
spoke of this thing and that, with no evi 
dence of preoccupation, no more sign of 
being rushed or ridden by his job, than as 
if we were out fishing together, with the 
whole day before us. 

Are You Industrious? 65 

Lincoln, of course, is the supreme exam 
ple of the really great man s ability to 
carry his burden easily, with no suggestion 
of desperate haste. 

The members of his Cabinet never grew 
fully reconciled to his habit of stopping on 
his way to Cabinet meetings to play a mo 
ment with Tad and his goat. 

They were so terribly busy themselves 
they could not understand a man who 
could carry a greater load, and yet have 
plenty of time to be friendly and good- 
natured and sympathetic. 

Extreme busyness is a symptom of deficient vi 
tality [says Stevenson] ; while a faculty for idle 
ness implies a catholic appetite and a strong sense 
of personal identity. There are dead-alive, hack 
neyed people about, who are scarcely conscious of 
living except in the exercise of some conventional 
occupation. Bring those fellows into the coun 
try, or set them aboard ship, and you will see how 
they pine for their desk or their study. They 
can not be idle. Their nature is not generous 
enough, and they pass in a sort of coma those 
hours which are not dedicated to furious moiling 
in the gold mill. When they do not require to 

66 It s a Good Old World 

go to the office, they are not hungry and have no 
mind to drink; the whole breathing world is a 
blank to them. This does not appear to me as 
being Success in Life. 

Life is a good deal like a journey on a 

Most of us go through with it huddled 
in the same seat, our noses buried in our 

And once in a while we glance up rather 
enviously at the big, genial-looking man 
across the aisle. 

He, too, works. But every time the 
train stops to change engines, he seems to 
find time to get out for a little stroll on 
the platform. His work has not pre 
vented him from having some fun with 
his kid, and learning a good deal about the 
country through which he is passing, and 
making some good friends on the trip. 

We ask who he is, and learn that he is a 
Captain of Industry. 

It is an appropriate title. He captains 
his industry commands it: it does not 
command him. He organizes it, and fits 
it into its proper place in his scheme of 

Are You Industrious? 67 

life. He does not let it interfere with 
the important business of being sometimes 

He has learned to be effective and still 

To be industrious without being busy. 


YESTERDAY a man travelled two 
miles out of his way, and wasted two 
hours of his time, in order to call on me 
and make a complaint. 

We had published a photograph taken 
by him, and had failed to put his name as 
the photographer in little type under 

It was our mistake, and I told him I was 
sorry about it: but as he left I thought to 
myself, " My dear sir, I have your meas 
ure to a quarter of an inch." 

And I felt like warning him to be care 
ful, in walking over the subway gratings, 
lest he should drop through one of the 

For it is only little men, as I have ob 
served, who are so tremendously concerned 
about the precise allotment of credit in 
this world. 


I can not imagine Lincoln walking two 
miles out of his way to protest because 
his name had not been printed in little 

He formed a Cabinet of men better 
known nationally than himself: four of 
them were sure that they were far greater 
than he. 

Seward wrote to his wife: " Only one 
man can save the Union, and I am the 

Stanton said to a friend who asked him 
what he was going to do in the Cabinet: 
" I am going to make Abe Lincoln Presi 
dent of the United States." 

Chase from the Treasury Department 
conducted an open campaign for Lincoln s 
defeat and his own nomination to the Pres 

Yet Lincoln aware of it all pur 
sued his quiet way untroubled. He meant 
to save the Union; and if he could do it 
by submitting to Stanton s abuse, he would 
submit gladly. 

If he could do it by suffering some per 
sonal humiliation at the hands of McClel- 

70 It s a Good Old World 

Ian and Fremont, it was a price he was 
glad to pay. 

If Seward or Stanton or Chase were to 
have the credit when the thing was done, 
he did not care. The important thing was 
to get it done, let the credit fall where it 

Have you read the story of Harriman s 
fight to save the Imperial Valley, as told 
by George Kennan? 

In 1907 the Colorado River overflowed 
its banks, and threatened to destroy the 
valley. Though Harriman s railroads did 
not own any of the land in the valley, Har- 
riman jumped in and spent $1,500,000 to 
stem the flood. 

When it became evident that another 
million or more would be required, he tele 
graphed President Roosevelt, and the 
President told him to go ahead, and prac 
tically assured him that Congress would 
reimburse him. 

Harriman saved the valley; Roosevelt 
recommended his reimbursement; but Con 
gress never acted on the recommendation, 

and Harriman s roads have never to this 
day been reimbursed. 

Shortly before his death, Harriman re 
visited the valley, and was met by a re 

" Mr. Harriman, the Government 
has n t paid you that money," said the re 
porter, " and your work does not seem to 
be duly appreciated; do you not, under 
the circumstances, regret having made this 
large expenditure?" 

" No," replied Mr. Harriman. " The 
valley was worth saving, was n t it? " 

" Yes," said the reporter. 

" Then we have the satisfaction of 
knowing that we saved it, have n t we? " 

Not much reward, you say, for the ex 
penditure of two or three million dollars. 
But it s the only kind of reward that big 
men really value. 

There is a wise old saying to this effect: 
" A great deal of good can be done in 
the world, if one is not too careful who 
gets the credit." 

If your object in life is to get credit, 

72 It s a Good Old World 

you 11 probably get it, if you work hard 

But don t be too much surprised and 
disappointed when some chap who just 
went ahead and did the thing, without 
thinking of the credit, winds up with more 
medals on his chest than you, with all 
your striving, have collected on yours. 


1WENT down to the fire-house in my 
precinct on the first Tuesday of No 
vember, and voted for woman suffrage, as 
has been my custom all these years. 

And, to my astonishment, the next morn 
ing I read in the newspaper that it had 

I say astonishment, because almost noth 
ing that I vote for ever does carry. On 
the day after election I look over the pa 
pers, and if a single Road Commissioner 
or Supervisor of the Poor on my ticket has 
pulled through, I consider that it has been 
a successful election for me. 

Like Truth, I have grown accustomed 
to being crushed to earth. It doesn t 
worry me as much as it used to. 

For, having watched many elections and 
listened to many campaign promises, I 
have noticed this that the progress of 


74 It s a Good Old World 

the world is n t permanently affected very 
much by turning one set of politicians out 
and putting another set in. 

I continue to vote, as intelligently as I 
can; but I have ceased to feel as enthus 
iastic as I used to feel about the power of 
votes to usher in the millennium. 

Maybe it s old age creeping on me; 
maybe I m just plain old-fashioned. But 
I just can t believe that anything is finally 
going to turn the trick of saving the world 
but simple individual goodness. 

It was Napoleon a very successful 
politician who said: 

Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself 
founded empires. But on what did we rest the 
creation of our genius? Upon sheer force. 
Jesus Christ alone founded his empire upon love: 
and at this hour millions of men will die for him. 

The empires, with all their machinery 
of election and of legislation, have passed 
away, leaving hardly a trace behind. 

The Carpenter held no elections : He 
was president of nothing; secretary of 
nothing; He formed no committees, made 

A Grizzled Voter 75 

no stump speeches, cast no vote. Yet the 
influence of His simple goodness has out 
lived all the empires of the earth, and 
stands to-day the most potent force for 
righteousness and progress in the world. 

I lunched the other day with a cele 
brated war correspondent, just back from 

There s just one thing I m sure of," 
he said. " Everything else about the war 
and the future of the world is problemati 
cal. But this I know the world must 
be run by heart power after this. We Ve 
tried brain power, and it does n t work. 
The Germans developed it to its highest 
point of efficiency, and we have the results 
to-day. It s got to be heart power from 
now on, or we re all in; that s all." 

And the home is the dynamo out of 
which heart power flows. 

There were thousands of agitators and 
reformers at work in the United States in 
the days before the Civil War. They 
doubtless did much good work. But all 
their influence added together did not equal 
that of the simple woman in a log cabin 

76 It s a Good Old World 

who gave us Abraham Lincoln, with a 

heart power great enough to reunite his 
fellow countrymen. 

I welcome my sisters to the ballot-box. 
They will clog up the polling place a little 
more, and make me a bit later in getting 
down to the office on election day. But 
I 11 forgive them all that, and I 11 vote 
for all the reforms they think are going 
to do any good, so long as they will con 
tinue to give us sons like the Carpenter 
and Lincoln. 

Meantime, when their pet reforms and 
candidates are defeated as often they 
will be < let me commend to them Sam 
Walter Foss: 

Let me live in a house by the side of the road, 

Where the race of men go by 

The men who are good, and the men who are bad, 

As good and as bad as I. 

I would not sit in the scorner s seat, 

Or hurl the cynic s ban; 

Let me live in a house by the side of the road 

And be a friend to man. 

Reforms will come and go : Truth will 

A Grizzled Voter 77 

keep right on being crushed and rising 
again. Politicians will promise and fail 
to make good. Movements will wax and 
wane. But if enough of us build our 
houses alongside of Sam s, we 11 gradually 
turn this old alleyway of a world into a 
nice, respectable street, no matter who car 
ries our precinct for alderman. 




THE first steamboats built in America 
looked like wooden boxes with 
pointed ends. 

Colonel John Stevens, their designer, 
concentrated his attention on his engines. 

One day his son Robert conceived the 
notion that the boats would make better 
time if their bows were longer and more 
sloping. - He designed a false bow of this 
sort, and built it on to a ship called the 
New Philadelphia, which slipped through 
the water so much more easily thereafter 
that it attained the great speed of thirteen 
and a half miles an hour. 

Robert had to build his bow almost with 
his own hands. 

He took it to his ship-builders, Messrs. 
Brown & Bell, and asked them to do it for 
him. But Mr. Bell declined. 

" They Say " 79 

" That bow will be called Bell s nose," he 
said, " and I shall be a general laughing 
stock. 9 

So a man who might have played a 
worthy part in the development of a great 
industry in America lost one big chance be 
cause he was afraid of the possible ridi 
cule of people whose opinion, one way or 
the other, was worthless. 

How many utterly drab and uninterest 
ing people are there in the world who 
might have developed real personalities 
if they had only had courage to do and be 
something different from the crowd. 

Every single forward step in history has 
been taken over the bodies of empty- 
headed fools who giggled and snickered. 

Fulton, needing a paltry $1,000 to com 
plete the building of his first steamboat, at 
length managed to secure it. But the 
friends who lent it asked that their names 
be withheld from the public lest it should 
be known that they had any connection 
with so foolhardy an enterprise. 

As I had occasion daily to pass to and from 
the ship-yard where my boat was in progress [he 

8o It s a Good Old World 

says], I often loitered near the groups of 
strangers, and heard various inquiries as to the 
object of this new vehicle. The language was 
uniformly that of scorn, sneer, or ridicule. The 
loud laugh often rose at my expense; the dry 
jest ; the wise calculation of losses or expendi 
tures; the dull but endless repetition of " Fulton s 
Folly." Never did a single encouraging remark, 
a bright hope, a warm wish cross my path. 

Governor De Witt Clinton, pushing 
through the construction of the Erie Canal, 
which was so important a factor in the 
early upbuilding of the country, was hooted 
with cries of " Clinton s Big Ditch " and 
" Clinton s Folly." 

Alaska, which has paid for itself so many 
hundred times over, was derisively referred 
to as " Seward s Ice-Box " when that 
courageous statesman negotiated for its 
purchase from Russia. 

Remember this if you would accomplish 
anything worth while : The crowd is gen 
erally good-natured, but its judgments are 
seldom the judgments of history. 

If you have anything really valuable to 
contribute to the world, it will come 

"They Say" 81 

through the expression of your own per 
sonality^ that single spark of divinity 
that sets you off and makes you different 
from every other living creature. 

A noted English schoolmaster used to 
have as his motto : 

Never explain, never retract, never 
apologize. Get it> done and let them howl. 

It is a motto not altogether to be com 
mended. He who governs his life accord 
ing to it will not be an agreeable companion 
or accomplish the largest service under a 
government where the will of the majority 
must finally prevail. 

But there is a rugged spirit of inde 
pendence embedded in it that many men 
would do well to adopt. 

You can afford to have a decent regard 
for public opinion : but you can never afford 
to let yourself get into the pathetic condi 
tion where what they say or may say will 
keep you from doing what ought to be 

It s a hopeless condition to be in, be 
cause what they say to-day is not what 
they said yesterday or will say to-morrow. 

82 It s a Good Old World 

" For John the Baptist came neither eat 
ing bread nor drinking wine," said Jesus, 
" and ye say, He hath a devil. 

" The Son of Man is come eating and 
drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous 
man, and a wine-bibber, a friend of publi 
cans and sinners." 




SINCE we stand upon the threshold of 
His birthday, let me introduce you to 
the most attractive, most delightful young 
man in the world. 

You have never known Him as he really 
is: all the pictures ever drawn misrepre 
sent Him. They have made Him out a 
weakling, a woman s features with a beard 
He who for years swung an adz and 
drove a saw through heavy timbers, who 
for long days tramped the borders of His 
loved lake, and would not sleep indoors 
if He could slip away into His garden. 

An outdoor man He was, a man s man 
who could stand watch when all His 
friends deserted Him in sleep, and could 
face the tempest in a little boat calm-eyed 
and unafraid. 


84 It s a Good Old World 

They have called Him a pacifist. How 
could they forget that day, I wonder, when 
in the midst of the hard-faced crowd He 
stood, and braiding a little whip, drove 
them out before Him? 

Think you it was only the glance of 
righteous anger in His eye that sent them 
scurrying? I tell you that behind that lit 
tle whip were muscles of iron, made strong 
by many years of labor, and a spirit that 
never once knew fear, not even in the pres 
ence of the cross. 

I have met men long-faced and sorrow 
ful, wagging their heads bitterly over the 
evil of the world, and by their very joy- 
lessness adding to that evil. And in their 
hearts they supposed that they were rep 
resenting Him, 

Think of it representing Him, to 
whom little children flocked with joyous 
laughter, and men, beseeching Him to have 
dinner with them in their homes. 

You remember the first of His miracles 
or perhaps you do not. Too often 
those who claim His name have preferred 
to forget that miracle. It does not fit in 

You Have Known About Him 85 

with the picture of Him that they have 

He was at a wedding party with His 
mother and some friends where the merri 
ment ran high. In the midst of it they 
came to Him in consternation. The wine 
had given out. 

So He performed His first miracle. 
Just to save a hostess from embarrassment 
and He thought it worth a miracle. 
Just to save a group of simple folk from 
having their hour of joy cut short it 
was for such a cause, He thought, that His 
divine power had been intrusted to Him. 

No one ever felt His goodness a cloud 
upon the company. No one ever laughed 
less heartily because He had joined the 
group. His was the gospel of joyfulness; 
His the message that the God of men 
would have them travel happily with Him, 
as children by a Father s side, not as 
servants shuffling behind. 

They killed Him, of course, in the end, 
and sometimes I am almost glad glad 
that He died at thirty-three, with youth 
still athrob in His veins, and never an 

86 It s a Good Old World 

illusion lost or an ideal dimmed by age. 

Claim Him, you who are young and 
love life; let no man dispute your claim. 

For He too was young and is; He too 
loved laughter and life. 

Old age and the creeds have had Him 
too long: I offer Him now to you not in 
creed but in truth Jesus of Nazareth, 
the joyous companion, the young man 
whom young men can love. 


IN Washington the other day I called on 
a high official of the Government, 
whose department has come in for a great 
deal of praise in the last few months. 

I found him in his office, well and happy. 
And I said to him: 

When I called on you three years ago, 
you had just made a move that everybody 
thought was absolutely indefensible. In 
the Senate and House they were calling 
for your resignation. Various cities sent 
resolutions to the President demanding 
that a fit man be substituted in your stead. 

That was three years ago and now 
you seem to be in danger of becoming a 
really popular character." 

He laughed. 

" One thing a man has to learn in public 
office," he said, " is that criticism is inevi 
table. The man who lets his judgment be 

88 It s a Good Old World 

deflected from day to day by what the peo 
ple think or say, will go on the rocks as 
sure as shooting. 

" A man must trust his own judgment 
and conscience, and go ahead. Some day, 
if he has been true, the facts will come to 
light and justify him." 

Coming back on the train, I picked up 
Ida Tarbell s "Life of Lincoln," and read 
again the story of those bitter years of 
Civil War. 

In the West was Fremont, brilliant, im 
petuous, conceited the popular idol. 
Without consultation or authority from the 
President, he issued in his own name an 
Emancipation Proclamation. It was im 
mensely popular in the North. Newspa 
pers and public speakers hailed it as a 
stroke of statesmanship, and its author as 
the man of vision who dared while the 
President weakly hesitated. 

The country did not know the full facts : 
Lincoln did. He knew that such a procla 
mation, issued at that hour, would do far 
greater harm than good. It would not 
help to save the Union; and it might throw 

Be Sure You re Right 89 

into the arms of the Confederacy those 
border States which had it in their power 
to win the war. 

So he modified the proclamation. 

When his order was made public, says 
Miss Tarbell, " a perfect storm of denun 
ciation broke over the President. The 
whole North felt outraged. There was 
talk of impeaching Lincoln and replacing 
him with Fremont. Great newspapers 
criticized him, warning him to learn where 
he was tending. Influential men in all pro 
fessions spoke bitterly of his action. 

" How many times, wrote James Rus 
sell Lowell, are we to save Kentucky and 
lose our self-respect? 

And all the time Lincoln, knowing better 
than any of his critics, having in his own 
mind his own plan for an Emancipation 
Proclamation, held his peace, enduring the 
criticism, waiting for the proper hour. 

Passages like that make me feel very 
reticent about exercising my divine right, 
as an American citizen, to denounce the 

So often, in our history, the events have 


proved that those who were criticized had 
all the facts, and the critics only part. 

So often men have slain the prophets 
and then erected mausoleums to them aft 

Criticism is an intelligent service in a 
democracy: but it is a very specialized job; 
and I, for one, am willing that it should be 
somebody s else job. 

Generally speaking, there is safety in 
this rule, and a lot of solid sense : 

Don t criticize until you re sure you re 

Then don t. 

Usually by the time you re absolutely 
sure, it will be too late, anyway. 




I HAVE always had a soft spot in my 
heart for Joseph, the true-hearted car 
penter of Nazareth. 

To Mary, his wife, the mother of Jesus, 
the world pays generous homage, and well 
it may. 

Her faith was firm at the end; she was 
one of those who stood brave and trusting 
even at the foot of the cross. 

The world remembers that; and gener 
ously forgets that there were times when 
her Son was too great a mystery for her. 
Times when she and His brethren would 
have locked Him up as mad, and when He 
spoke of them almost as though they were 
hardly worthy of Him. 

We forget all this, and remember her 
at her best, and she deserves to be remem 


92 It s a Good Old World 

But Joseph we remember hardly at all. 
Yet he must have been a wonderful man. 

" Suffer the little children to come unto 
me " Jesus said, holding out his tired 
arms, and smiling; even as His patient car 
penter-father had opened his arms to his 
own children at the close of the wearying 

Remembering such a scene as that I 
stand reverently before the memory of 
Joseph. This is his distinction he so 
represented fatherhood to his own Son, 
that the Son could conceive of no more 
splendid title for God than the single title, 
" Father." 

There is no reward of riches for suc 
cessful fathers; no distinguished service 
medal; no Victoria Cross. 

We reverence Washington and Lincoln, 
Luther and Phillips Brooks; but the men 
who gave them birth and training have 
disappeared from our remembrance. 

Yet I know of no business of greater 
compensations than the business of success 
ful fatherhood. 

Recently I was a visitor at two homes. 

A Soft Spot for Joseph 93 

The first was a home of abundance; we 
ate on rich china, and sat afterwards amid 
expensive surroundings. I wondered that 
a man who had so much should seem to 
find so little satisfaction in it. 

Late in the evening I discovered the 

" Men call me fortunate," he said to 
me, " but they do not know what they 
say. I have made a failure of the only 
thing in life that counts. My son is 
worthless and I let him drift into 

The other home was modest. The man 
who dwells in it will never be heard of 
beyond the limits of his own small town. 
But he has put humanity in his debt. The 
lives that he has brought into the world 
will shed glory on his name long after he 
has passed beyond. 

He has paid the price, of course; he 
might perhaps have gone farther in busi 
ness if he had been content to sacrifice 
everything to business. 

But for years he has made it a rule to 
take some regular time each day to be a 

94 It s a Good Old World 

comrade to his boys. Their reading, their 
sports, their problems are a first considera 
tion on his calendar. In business he 
makes only his living; at home he is guid 
ing and molding lives. 

" Do not be concerned at my death," 
murmured Samuel Wesley on his dying bed. 
" God will then begin to manifest himself 
in my family." 

The world has erected no monument 
above Samuel Wesley: he has been for 
gotten as completely forgotten as 
though he had been a king of England or 
a millionaire. 

But the influence of his character will 
not perish. His is the proud heritage of 
the friends of Joseph the unobtrusive, 
unremembered fellowship of men who lose 
their lives in fatherhood 

and losing them, find an immortality 
in the undying influence of their sons. 

SEVERAL years ago when I had just 
been promoted to my first real job, I 
called on a business friend of mine. He 
is a wise and experienced handler of men; 
I asked him what suggestions he could 
make about executive responsibility. 

u You are about to make the great dis 
covery," he said. " Within a week or two 
you will know why it is that executives 
grow gray and die before their time. You 
will have learned the bitter truth that 
there are no efficient people in the world." 

I am still very far from admitting that 
he was right, but I know well enough what 
he meant. Every man knows who has 
ever been responsible for a piece of work, 
or had to meet a pay-roll. 

Recently another friend of mine built 
a house. The money to build it repre 
sented a difficult period of saving on the 
part of himself and his wife; it meant ov 
ertime work and self-denial, and extra ef- 


96 It s a Good Old World 

fort in behalf of a long-cherished dream. 

One day when the work was well along, 
he visited it, and saw a workman climbing 
a ladder to the roof with a little bunch of 
shingles in his hands. 

" Look here," the foreman cried, " can t 
you carry a whole bundle of shingles? " 

The workman regarded him sullenly. 

" I suppose I could," he answered, " if I 
wanted to bull the job." 

By " bull the job " he meant " do an 
honest day s work." 

At ten o clock one morning I met still 
another man in his office in New York. 
He was munching a sandwich and gulping 
a cup of coffee which his secretary had 
brought in to him. 

" I had to work late last night," he said, 
" and meet a very early appointment this 
morning. My wife asked our maid to 
have breakfast a half hour early so that I 
might have a bite and still be here in 

" When I came down to breakfast, the 
maid was still in bed." 

She lives in his home, and eats, and is 

"And Re Goeth" 97 

clothed by means of money which his brain 
provides; but she has no interest in his 
success, no care whatever except to do the 
minimum of work. 

" The real trouble with the world to 
day is a moral trouble," said a thoughtful 
man recently. " A large proportion of its 
people have lost all conception of what it 
means to render an adequate service in re 
turn for the wages they are paid." 

He is a generous man. On almost any 
sort of question his sympathies are likely 
to be with labor, and so are mine. I am 
glad that men work shorter hours than 
they used to, and in certain instances I 
think the hours should be even shorter. 
I am glad they are paid higher wages, and 
hope they may earn still more. 

But there are times when my sympathy 
goes out to those in whose behalf no voice 
is ever raised to the executives of the 
world, whose hours are limited only by the 
limit of their physical and mental endur 
ance, who carry not merely the load of 
their own work, but the heartbreaking 
load of carelessness and stolid indifference 

98 It s a Good Old World 

in so many of the folks whom they employ. 

Perhaps the most successful executive 
in history was that centurion of the Bible. 

" For I am a man under authority, hav 
ing soldiers under me," he said. " And 
I say to this man go, and he goeth; and to 
another, come, and he cometh; and to my 
servant, do this, and he doeth it." 

Marvelous man! 

The modern executive also says " Go," 
and too often the man who should have 
gone will appear a day or two later and 
explain, " I didn t understand what you 
meant." He says " Come," and at the 
appointed time his telephone rings and a 
voice speaks saying: " I overslept and 
will be there in about three quarters of an 
hour " 


JUST a group of simple shepherds they 
were: going about their jobs as usual, 
with no suspicion that this night would be 
different from any other. 

And to them, of all men in the world, 
the heavenly vision came. 

In their ears, mingled with the noises of 
their daily toil, the angel voices sounded. 

Thousands of men were looking eagerly 
for the appearance of the Messiah that 
night as they had looked for His ap 
pearance every night for years. 

Surely with great acclaim He would 
come: in a King s palace, with signs and 
wonders to restore His chosen people. 

And while their eyes were fixed on high 
to see the great event, lo, the great event 
took place at their very feet; and they 
never saw it. 

He came to the world out of the depths, 
not on the heights. They found Him " ly 
ing in a manger." 


It often happens so in life. 

There is in the world to-day a man who 
has toiled terribly that he might achieve a 
vast success. 

He has piled dollar upon dollar and 
business upon business. Mounting to the 
top of the great pile which he has made, 
he has looked longingly for a glimpse of 
the thing worth while; and he has not 
found it. 

While, only one short block from his 
home, in a little cottage, surrounded by his 
red-cheeked children, a man who will never 
have ten thousand dollars to his name 
looks out on life through reverent eyes, and 
finds it wonderful. 

Not in the palace on that street will one 
find the Kingdom of Happiness : but in the 
little cottage. 

Even as they found Him, years ago, 
lying in a manger. 

There is another man who cherishes in 
his heart the vision of a reconstructed 
social order. 

He hopes by laws and ordinances, and 
by this and that, to hedge the people in and 

"In a Manger" 101 

mold them so that they must be good in 
spite of themselves. 

His mind is full of social betterment: 
and in his heart is no appreciation what 
ever of the people whom he seeks to better. 

He has no confidence in them. 

He forgets that it was from them Lin 
coln sprang. 

He forgets that it was the French Revo 
lution, in spite of its violence, and not the 
thought and plan of statesmen, that started 
the modern world on its great roll toward 

Almost every great movement has 
grown up from below. Yet he does not 
understand it. He thinks to hand im 
provement down, like old clothes, from 

He seeks the millennium from on high : 
and behold, at his very feet, the millennium 
is slowly working itself into being. 

Even as the great beginning of the mil 
lennium came, not in a king s palace, but in 
a manger. 

It is an easy thing to fix one s eyes on the 
distant splendor, and, pressing toward it, 

lose the nearer splendor that lies every 
where about. 

It is a temptation to say, "I am so busy 
with the great work I am doing, my activi 
ties are so important, that I can not be 
bothered about little things." 

He who was born in a manger was never 
busy. With the burden of the world on 
His shoulders, he was not too preoccupied 
to hear the cry of a single blind man. 

Wearied by anxious hours of toil, He 
was not too weary to open his arms to little 

" Take time to live each day in simple 
friendliness " this would be His message 
to you. 

" The Kingdom of Happiness lies, not 
far off, but close about you." 

It was thus that the shepherds dis 
covered it. 

In the midst of their daily job the heav 
enly light broke around them: with the 
noises of their regular, routine labor in 
their ears, the voice of the angel sounded: 

" Ye shall find Him . . . lying in a 


IN 1833 a clerk in the patent office at 
Washington handed in his resignation. 

It was an interesting document, touched 
with pathos. He had found the work con 
genial, he said; he was sorry to leave it. 
But his conscience would not allow him to 
continue to draw pay under false pretenses. 
There was no more need for a job like his. 
Every possible invention had been con 
ceived and patented; there was nothing 
left to invent. 

In 1833 and nothing left to invent! 
Before the railroads had spanned the con 
tinent! Before electricity lighted our 
streets and moved our cars ! Before the 
telephone, or the wireless, or the steam- 
shovel, or the dynamo ! At the very 
threshold of the greatest period of me 
chanical advance that the world has ever 
known, this young man threw up his hands. 

A large section of the human race, in 

104 I^ 5 a Good Old World 

any age, belongs to the class of that mis 
taken young man. You find men at every 
period, their eyes gripped by the past, 
looking forward, when they look at all, 
only to shudder and to fear. 

They were the people who criticized Jef 
ferson bitterly because he paid the enor 
mous sum of 60,000,000 francs for the 
worthless tract of land beyond the Alle- 
ghenies. Fortunately he withstood their 
criticism and persisted in his extravagant, 
high-handed course, and the richest agri 
cultural empire in the world was added to 
our territory at a cost of less than four 
cents an acre. 

They sneered at Fulton when his steam 
ship lay building in the dry-dock. The 
idea of a fool supposing that he could run 
a boat without the aid of wind or tide ! 

And the children of these men of little 
faith stand to-day aghast at the prospect 
of what may happen to the world in the 
months that are before us. 

I met a few days ago a rich man who 
shook his head lugubriously. " I am turn 
ing everything I can into gold or Govern- 

Your Eyes 105 

ment bonds," he said, " and I am not so 
sure about the bonds. We are going to 
have terrible times; mark my words." 

The same day a laborer spoke to me, 
nodding sagely. " I tell you we have no 
idea of the troubles that are coming to us," 
he said. " Europe is bankrupt, and we 
are on the way." 

They did not need to tell me that we 
are to have some trying times : I know it 
as well as the next man. You cannot 
shake the earth from its very foundations, 
and expect to set it back in place again 
without a jar. 

But I know this which they do not 
know, or do not believe, at least that 
the world, with all its times of trouble, 
still moves ahead. No man can play a 
big part in the world who does not be 
lieve in the future of the world. 

There is a thrill in the thought of the 
days ahead with the rising of peoples 
long oppressed, and the overturn of cus 
toms long outgrown. Suppose it does 
cost us part of the money we have saved; 
we re young and can make some more. 

io6 It s a Good Old World 

Suppose it does throw some of us into new 
jobs; there s joy in a job that is new. 

It is pleasant to read the history of the 
past but the wise man does his histor 
ical reading at night when the day s work 
is done. During the working hours he 
keeps his eyes on the great and glorious 
and thrilling future. 

For eyes were made to look forward; 
that s why they re placed in the front of 
the head. 


I HAVE been reading the tragic, inspir 
ing story of a great man. 

His work has enriched the life of every 
generation since his own : but his life was 
a long, dark day of suffering. 

This man was Ludwig von Beethoven. 

He was born in a humble cottage in 
Bonn in the year 1770. His parents were 
poor, but that is a minor matter. The 
parents of most great men have been poor. 

Tragedy entered Beethoven s life not by 
reason of his parents poverty, but because 
they were utterly incapable of appreciat 
ing the fine spiritual gift that was in the 

His father had no thought but to ex 
ploit the son s musical talent. At the age 
of eleven he was playing in theater or- 

io8 It s a Good Old World 

chestras and carrying burdens far too 
heavy for his young shoulders to bear. 

His health was poor: there were none 
to appreciate his genius: and in the glory 
of his young manhood, when he was just 
beginning to feel his power, his life was 
clouded by an irremediable calamity. He 
began to lose his hearing. 

Think of it! 

A musician, dependent on the fine har 
mony of sounds for his success and deaf 
at twenty-six. 

Poverty-stricken, unloved, betrayed and 
flouted by the nephew for whom he had 
sacrificed everything, this unconquerable 
spirit yet gave to the world music that has 
gladdened the hearts of millions of men 
and women in every land. 

I have no friend; I must live alone [he said]. 
But I know that in my heart God is nearer to 
me than to others. I approach him without fear; 
I have always known him. Neither am I anx 
ious about my music, which no adverse fate will 
overtake, and which will free him who under 
stands it from the misery which afflicts others. 

And at another time : 

Would You Be Great? 109 

I want to prove that whoever acts rightly and 
nobly can by that alone bear misfortune. 

No man can read these words, remem 
bering Beethoven s life, without feeling 
his own soul enriched and strengthened. 

It is a significant thing that a large pro 
portion of the great lives of history have 
been conceived in suffering and nurtured 
on disappointment and pain. 

We think of Lincoln as the great story 
teller. But if you would know the real 
Lincoln, look at the deep lines in his face. 

Napoleon conquered the world; yet he 
almost never laughed. He was never 
really well; never rose from his bed feel 
ing rested; he was so depressed as a young 
man that he seriously contemplated end 
ing his life. 

It was a famous writer who said: 
" What has been well written has been well 

" The lives of the great heroes were 
lives of long martyrdom," says Remain 
Holland in the "Life of Beethoven" from 
which I have quoted. " A tragic destiny 
willed their souls to be forged on the anvil 

no It s a Good Old World 

of physical and moral grief, of misery and 
ill health." 

There is this consolation to you in your 
hours of disappointment and distress 
that suffering is the stuff out of which true 
greatness grows. 

Yield to it weakly, and it will destroy 
you. Rise a conqueror of it, and by that 
act you become a finer spirit, a greater 
man or woman. 

" I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men 
unto me," said Jesus of Nazareth. 

By " lifted up " He meant " lifted up 
on the cross" crucified. Only by His 
suffering and death could He become the 
Cure and Saviour of the world. 

There was no short cut, no easier way, 
to greatness and glory for Him : and there 
seldom is for any man. 


AT a public dinner some weeks ago five 
speakers were scheduled. It was 
agreed that each would speak for twenty 
minutes a hundred minutes of oratory, 
all that any patient audience ought to be 
called upon to stand. 

The first man spoke twenty-two minutes. 

The second man spoke twenty-five. 

The third man stood on his feet and 
rambled along for an hour and forty-four 
minutes ! 

The other two speakers, with an amount 
of Christian charity and common sense not 
often found among platform habitues, had 
meanwhile folded their tents and gone 

The speaker has an unfair advantage 
over a writer. 

Any reader of this piece can, at any mo 
ment, decide that it is not worth reading, 
and move on (as doubtless many do), 

112 It s a Good Old World 

But no man rises in the middle of a pub 
lic address, jams on his hat and stamps 
down the aisle. 

We are held by a certain convention of 
courtesy: and nine speakers out of ten pre 
sume upon that fact. 

Only once in a blue moon does a man 
arise and, without palaver, drive right to 
the point, making his statement in a few 
crisp words, and sitting down before we 
are ready to have him stop. 

Such a one leaves us gasping with re 
lief and admiration : we would with the 
slightest encouragement, shout for him for 
President. He glistens in our memory; 
and we mention his name with a certain 
awe when the names of speakers are told. 

Brevity is so popular a virtue that I can 
not understand why more speakers do not 
cultivate it. 

It is one of the keys to immortality. 

Two men spoke at Gettysburg on the 
same afternoon during the Civil War. 
One man was named Everett, the leading 
orator of his day; and he made a typically 
" great " oration. 

A Tax on Talk 113 

What reader of this page has ever heard 
it referred to; or could repeat a single 

The other speaker read from a slip of 
paper less than 300 words. His speech 
Lincoln s Gettysburg Address will 
live forever. 

Greeley used to say that the way to 
write a good editorial was to write it to 
the best of your ability, then cut it in two 
in the middle and print the last half. 

When a reporter complained to Dana 
that he could not possibly cover a certain 
story in six hundred words, Dana sent him 
to the Bible : 

" The whole story of the creation of the 
world is told in less than six hundred," he 

Everything is taxed these days except 
talk: and no tax could be more popular 
from the standpoint of the patient con 

The tax should be graded, like the in 
come tax. Let speeches of five minutes or 
under be exempt; from five to ten minute 
speeches, ten per cent; ten to fifteen min- 

H4 It s a Good Old World 

utes, fifteen per cent. Over thirty min 
utes, sixty per cent; and over an hour 100 
per cent, with double taxes on all speeches 
in Congress. 

Only by some such rigorous treatment 
will the spoken word regain a position of 
respect; and silence receive the honor that 
is its due. 

There is one historical character who 
has fascinated me. His name was Enoch : 
the honor conferred upon him has been en 
joyed by no other; yet his whole biography 
is written in less than twenty words. 

" And Enoch walked with God: and he 
was not: for God took him." 

So far as we know he was the only man 
ever selected by the Almighty as a walking 

And there is every indication that he was 
a man of very few words. 


A FEW days ago a successful man sat 
in my office discussing his business. 

"Our organization is all right; we re 
showing good profits," he said. " The 
only thing we lack is a boss that can make 
things hum as they used to in the old days 
when we were poor and struggling. 

" The best thing that could happen to 
the business would be for me to lose all 
my money. I don t have to worry any 
more; I don t have to work and try as 
he may, the man who does n t have to work 
can t put the same fire into it as he did 
when his living and his future were at 

The next afternoon at the club I ran 
into a college mate whose father left him 
plenty of money. He had as much ability 
as any man in his class; and he has worked 
at one job and another after a fashion. 
No one could accuse him of being shiftless. 

ii6 It s a Good Old World 

But always in the back of his mind was 
the consciousness that he did not need to 
work. If he lost the job, if it proved un 
pleasant and he quit, nothing vital was 
sacrificed. He still could live and wait to 
look around for something more according 
to his fancy. So while some other men, 
who have had to hustle from commence 
ment day, have made real places for them 
selves, he still is holding jobs none of 
which seem to him quite worth holding. 

There is something in all this worth re 
membering in days when the air is so full 
of schemes for reorganizing the world on 
an easier basis. All the socialistic systems 
I have ever heard of, all the plans for sub 
stituting governmental ownership for pri 
vate ownership, break down when you ask 
this impertinent question : 

" But how are you going to get men to 

William James, the psychologist, 
pointed out long ago that even the most 
ambitious of us live at about half our 
actual capacity. It s only when we are 
stirred by a great demand, an insistent ne- 

The Great God "Must" 117 

cessity, that we accomplish the sort of 
things that make us proud of our humanity. 

The war proved that to millions of men. 

We subscribed for Liberty Bonds away 
beyond our capacity to pay; we didn t see 
how we could possibly work our way out. 
Yet we did work our way out. We did 
because we had to. 

I have seen writers become so well fixed 
financially that they could take things easy. 

" Now I can do really fine work," they 
say. " I have leisure, and can wait until I 
am fully rested and then produce a master 
piece which will show no trace of pressure 
or necessity." 

And usually they produce nothing at all. 

Most of the great works of art have 
been the creation of men who needed food 
and drink and room-rent. Old Mother 
Hubbard when she went to the cupboard 
and found not even a single bone, was 
then in perfect condition to sit down and 
write a first-class novel, or carve an im 
mortal statue or start a beauty parlor that 
would have made her rich. 

We need a little more clear-thinking 

ii8 It s a Good Old World 

these days a new gospel of work, and a 
new definition of independence. We have 
talked about independence as though it 
meant leisure, freedom from responsibility, 
the opportunity to loaf. 

But real independence is mastery the 
proud consciousness of being able to do a 
task a little better than the average, and 
the assurance that the task itself will pro 
vide the reward of every legitimate desire. 

We want the world to be every year an 
easier and happier and more comfortable 
place. But our progress toward that end 
will be mightily diminished if we ever in 
stitute a social system that banishes the iron 
mastery of the great god " Must." 




CONSIDERING that it costs nothing, 
I am surprised that so few people 
have the great men of the world working 
for them. 

Personally I should hardly know how 
to get through a week without their help. 

I am in a business that has no office 
hours : there is no one except myself to as 
sign my work and see that it gets done. 
And frequently there are days when I 
kick against my boss and do not feel like 
doing any work at all. 

For such days I have discovered a rem 
edy. I go to my desk a little early, and 
instead of starting at once to work, I pick 
up the biography of some great man and 
read a chapter out of the most interesting 
portion of his life. 

After half an hour or so, I am con 
scious of a new feeling. My spiritual 

shoulders are straighter, my reluctance has 
disappeared. I say to myself: "How 
trivial is my task compared with the mar 
vels he achieved." I am on fire with his 
example, eager to make the day count. 

The discovery that great men can be 
drafted for help in even the humblest of 
fice is not original with me. Many an 
other has profited by it; Emerson, for ex 
ample : 

" I cannot even hear of personal vigor of any 
kind, great power of performance, without fresh 
resolution," he says. " We are emulous of all 
that men do. Cecil s saying of Sir Walter 
Raleigh, I know that he can toil terribly, is an 
electric touch. So are Clarendon s portraits of 
Hampden ; who was of an industry and vigil 
ance not to be tired out or wearied by the most 
laborious, and of parts not to be imposed upon by 
the most subtle and sharp, and of a personal cour 
age equal to his best parts ; and of Falkland: 
who was so severe an adorer of truth that he 
could as easily have given himself leave to steal 
as to dissemble. We cannot read Plutarch with 
out a tingling of the blood ; and I accept the say 
ing of the Chinese Mercius : A sage is the in 
structor of a hundred ages. When the manners 

Put Great Men to Work 121 

of Loo are heard of, the stupid become intelligent, 
and the wavering, determined. " 

There is in biography an antidote for 
almost every mood. 

Are we discouraged ? A half hour with 
Lincoln, carrying patiently his great load, 
never once losing faith, makes me properly 
ashamed of myself. 

Are we inclined to be afraid? It stirs 
new depths of courage in us to read of 
Stonewall Jackson, whose motto was : 
" Never take counsel of your fears." 

Do we vacillate between two courses of 
action? There is in all literature no such 
warning against vacillation as the pitiful 
uncertainties of poor Cicero. 

I would commend these willing helpers 
to every man who finds his task sometimes 
heavy beyond his individual strength. 

There is no limit to their service. The 
fact that I employ them does not keep 
them from working with equal efficiency 
for you. They answer at a moment s no 
tice, and may be dismissed peremptorily 
without the slightest hurt upon their feel 

122 It s a Good Old World 

In their companionship is the secret of 
mental and spiritual growth. It is fairly 
easy to be as great as our contemporaries. 
It is hard to lift ourselves by our own boot 
straps to distinguished effort and achieve 

But these great men, any one of us may 
make his own contemporaries and com 
panions if he will; and there is no danger 
that we will outgrow them. 

They are a daily stimulation to that 
which is best and most effective in us 
they stand out like golden peaks of 
achievement along which even the least 
of us may climb a little nearer to his best 


THERE is a certain man among my 
acquaintances who, with a little less 
ability, would have made a splendid suc 

That sounds strange; but employers of 
men will understand it: they will have a 
picture right away of the kind of man he is. 

In his boyhood he mowed lawns, like the 
other boys: also he ran a lemonade stand, 
and managed a newspaper route, and was 
forever figuring out a new scheme. 

He graduated from high school and 
entered business with great promise. But 
he had not been at work three months be 
fore he was running a couple of little pri 
vate businesses on the side. 

So he has continued through life 
cursed with the unhappy gift of being able 
to do three or four things at once. 

He ekes out a very fair income to-day,. 

124 ft * a Good Old World 

drawing it in little bits from half a dozen 
different sources. 

But he is getting along in life, and there 
is no one single business of which he can 
say: " I made it." He has scattered 
himself so widely that there is not one spot 
in the world s life that bears the permanent 
imprint of his effort. 

Twice he has almost broken down from 
overwork. And four of the men who 
were his boyhood play-mates men who 
were satisfied to mow lawns and attempt 
nothing else have plugged along, each in 
a single business, and with far less ability 
than he, have reached a higher place in the 

I was reminded of him last night, in run 
ning across a reference to Lord Mount 
Stephen, in the new biography of James J. 

George Stephen he became Lord 
Mount Stephen afterward was the son 
of a carpenter in Dufftown, Scotland. He 
worked for a time in a shop in Aberdeen, 
but was brought to America at an early 
age, and became one of the makers of 

Hezeklah Is Dead 

Canada, and a power in the British 

In 1901, visiting Scotland, the carpen 
ter s son was presented with the freedom 
of the city of Aberdeen; and this is what 
he said: 

Any success I may have had in life is due in 
great measure to the somewhat Spartan training 
I received during my Aberdeen apprenticeship, 
on which I entered as a boy of fifteen. To that 
training, coupled with the fact that / seem to have 
been born utterly without the faculty of doing 
more than one thing at a time, is due that I am 
here before you to-day. I had but few wants and 
no distractions to draw me away from the work 
I had in hand. It was impressed upon me from 
my earliest years, by one of the best mothers that 
ever lived, that I must aim at being a thorough 
master of the work by which I got my living ; and 
to be that I must concentrate my whole energies 
on my work, whatever that might be, to the ex 
clusion of every other thing. 

Concentration with the exception of 
honesty, it covers a larger measure of the 
secret of success than any other word. 

I once asked a very successful man how 

ia6 It s a Good Old World 

he was able to get so much done and still 
have leisure time. 

" I pick up only one paper from my 
desk at a time," he said, " and I make it a 
point not to lay that paper down until I 
have settled the business that it involves." 

I was present in his office when a friend 
came to offer him a participation in an en 
terprise that promised to be very profit 
able. He answered: 

" I can t do it, Jim. I don t need the 
money. And no amount of money could 
possibly compensate me for the nuisance 
and inefficiency of having to carry two 
things on my mind at the same time." 

If you want a very good example of 
how big things are done, read the descrip 
tion of the creation of the world as re 
corded in the first chapter of Genesis. 

It is a fine little treatise on efficiency. 

An enormous job, but no hurry, no rush, 
no confusion. 

One day the creation of light nothing 
else. The next day, the firmament. The 
third day, the creation of land and its. 
division from the waters. 

Hezekiah Is Dead 127 

One thing each day, followed by a good 
night s sleep, and a full day s rest at the 
end of the week. 

The world has never improved on that 
formula for success. 

It was the formula of Hezekiah, who re 
fused to dally with side-lines or attempt 
more than one thing at a time. 

" And in every work that he began he 
did it with all his heart and prospered. 




CURIOUS things come to light when 
men are dead and the lawyers are 
busy with their estates. 

Some months ago, in New York, a bank 
president died. I had never seen him, but 
his name was familiar enough, and I sup 
posed that of course he must have left a 
considerable fortune. 

Apparently every one else was of the 
same opinion, including even the business 
associates who knew him best. 

Imagine, then, their surprise when it 
was discovered that, instead of an estate, 
he had left debts of thousands of dollars. 

Had he lost heavily in the market? 
No; apparently, he never speculated at all. 
Foolish investments? No. Women and 
wine? No. 

Incredible as it seemed, this man whose 
income was more than a hundred thousand 

Learning to Do Without 129 

dollars a year got rid of it all, not in 
gambling or dissipation, but in the every 
day expenses of living. 

He had come up through the various 
stages of bank employment to the presi 
dency of a great institution; and at every 
point in his career his expenses were in ex 
cess of his income. 

Even when the income crossed the hun 
dred-thousand-dollar mark, it was still a 
few steps behind. Never for one moment 
had he been the master of his life. At a 
hundred thousand a year he was as much 
the slave of circumstance as any twelve- 
dollar-a-week clerk whose expenses are 
fourteen dollars. 

An extraordinary case, you exclaim. 
Yes but extraordinary only in the size 
of the figures involved. In all other re 
spects the gentleman was typical of a large 
percentage of his fellow countrymen. 

A general, he was, in the unfortunate 
army of those who take orders of their 
fears, and march day after day to the 
music of a piper whom they can not afford 
to pay. 

130 It s a Good Old World 

What a curious phenomenon it is that 
you can get men to die for the liberty of 
the world who will not make the little 
sacrifice that is needed to free themselves 
from their own individual bondage. 

All of us are born into the world free : 
and immediately we begin to get ourselves 
into slavery to things. 

We let the number of things that are 
necessary for our daily life multiply to 
such an extent that we have neither time 
nor money for the things that really count. 

I stood the other night in a big store, 
looking around at the shelves. And it 
came over me with a sudden shock that, of 
all the hundreds of articles displayed on 
the shelves around me, hardly a single one 
was considered a necessity by my grand 

None of them were included in the lives 
of the ancient Greeks, who gave birth to 
more great men than any similar period of 
history has been able to produce since. 

Once a year at least I like to get down 
Thoreau s " Walden " and read it over 
again: and I pass on that good tonic to 

Learning to Do Without 131 

any of you who may not have discovered 

Thoreau was a Harvard graduate who 
built a hut for himself on the shores of a 
little lake near Concord, Massachusetts, 
and lived in it for two years and two 

For eight months of the period he kept 
careful financial records; and in that time 
his total expenses, including the cost of his 
house, were $61.99, f which he earned by 
raising vegetables and by occasional day 
labor more than half. 

He threw worry out of the window; re 
duced his living expenses to a point where 
he could provide them with the labor of a 
very small part of his days; and so freed 
the remainder of his life for reading and 
writing and tramps through the woods 
and useful thought. 

We can not all do what Thoreau did; 
but, at least, the war helped us to learn 
the lesson of his example. 

It set us to questioning of each ele 
ment in our lives, Is this worth what I have 
been paying for it? 

132 It s a Good Old World 

And to pondering on the important 
truth that no man is so independent as 
he who has learned to do without. 


LINCOLN said a wonderfully wise 
thing one day. 

" I have talked with great men," he 
said, " and I cannot see wherein they differ 
from others." 

Too many of us have a distorted notion 
of great men : we see them only on their 
successful side, and imagine that they have 
no other. As a matter of fact, the great 
man is precisely like ourselves, a mixture 
of success and failure, of joy and deep de 
pression. And very often if we would 
study him upon the side of his failures, we 
might learn more useful lessons than those 
that his successes teach. 

No greater genius existed in his genera 
tion than Michelangelo. With such mag 
nificent abilities he should have been a 
happy man : yet he was of all men most 
miserable. His letters abound in melan 
choly laments. 


134 It s a Good Old World 

What was the secret of his misery? 
Failure to apply himself? From boyhood 
into old age he worked incessantly. 

Extravagance? He denied himself 
even the ordinary comforts, to say nothing 
of the luxuries of life. 

No, his tragedy lay within himself 
partly in a pessimistic temperament in 
herited from his father, but chiefly in this 
fatal weakness : he never had the spiritual 
courage to say "No!" 

Before he had well begun one work, he 
allowed his patrons to force other com 
missions upon him. He undertook too 
many things. And as a result, in agony 
of spirit over promises unfulfilled, over 
work begun and left half done, he passed 
his miserable days. 

Modern society is in a conspiracy to ruin 
men as Michelangelo was ruined. It 
comes with a thousand conflicting claims. 

" Be chairman of this," it asks; or " Go 
on this committee "; or " Leave what you 
are doing and tackle this new job." 

And no man accomplishes anything 
really worth while unless he learns early 

It Ruined Michelangelo 135 

to harden his will and to utter that little 
word no. 

" How did you come to discover the law 
of gravitation?" a pretty woman asked 
Sir Isaac Newton. 

" By constantly thinking about it, 
madam," the great man replied. 

Newton might have served on a hun 
dred committees; he might have invented 
a patent churn; he might have made some 
money in the stock-market in those years 
when he was " constantly thinking " about 
gravitation. But he held himself firm to 
his single purpose, and did the great thing, 
resolutely refusing the thousand tempting 

It s a curious fact that most children 
learning to talk can say " no " long before 
they can utter the syllable " yes." Yet 
men find it so easy to say yes and almost 
impossible to say no. 

In that fact lies the secret of many fail 
ures. It ruined Michelangelo that fa 
tal inability to say " No! " And it will 
ruin any man who does not set himself 
resolutely on guard against it. 




IN his home one evening I talked with a 
successful business man; and he said to 
me something like this : 

" Each year in business I learn a few 
new things; and each year I discover that 
a few of the things I learned the year be 
fore are not so very true, after all. So 
when I come to strike a balance the an 
nual increase in wisdom is n t anything 
very great. But of four truths I am en 
tirely sure. 

" Very early in my business career I 
learned that it is never wise to say: I 
will never work for so and so, or I will 
never live in such and such a place. 
Youth sets out with a good many such 
prejudices which it regards as convictions. 
But as time goes on, one discovers that no 
man ever had a point of pride that was not 

An Oracle 137 

a weakness to him. I will work for any 
one to-day who is honest and who has 
something to give me in the way of ad 
vancement or knowledge that I do not al 
ready have; and I will live anywhere that 
my work calls me. 

" A little later I added this second bit of 
knowledge. I quit trying to tell other men 
what they ought to do with their lives. A 
man s career is a matter to be settled by 
himself, his wife and his Creator. I will 
help when my help is asked, if I can; but 
I will not take the presumptuous chance 
of sticking my finger into the wheels of 
any other life unless I am specifically in 

"Later still I concluded never to say 
to any man, If you don t do so and so, 
I 11 quit because one day one of them 
answered quite properly, All right, then 

" Fourthly and finally," he said, " I have 
learned never to slight a young man. 
There is a double reason for that, of 
course. In the first place, it s good re 
ligion. Every older man ought to be a 

138 It s a Good Old World 

kind of unofficial trustee for youth. But 
in the second place it s good business. It 
may be an exaggeration to say that any 
boy can become President of the United 
States. But it s certain that any office boy 
may be purchasing agent or general man 
ager or president of his company ten years 
from now. And when he arrives, I want 
him on my side." 

Nothing very startling in all this, you 
say; not a very imposing array of knowl 
edge for a man to have gathered in thirty- 
five or forty years. Very true; but the 
more you listen to successful men, the more 
you are impressed by the fact that the only 
bits of truth they value are truths so old 
that most of us learned them all in Sunday 

Honesty is the best policy; no hard work 
is ever lost; what a man sows, that shall he 
reap these are about all that the aver 
age wise man is sure of. And they are 

The Greeks had an institution which 
they called an oracle a place where the 
voice of the gods might be heard. Usu- 

An Oracle 139 

ally the utterances of the oracle ran some 
what after this fashion: "Go at the 
enemy as hard as you can, and if you fight 
better than he does, you will win." 

Millionaires are the modern popular 
oracles; a good many men gather around 
them, thinking that some day the great one 
will give them a tip by means of which they 
may succeed. I have listened to several 
millionaires; and what they say is usually 
very sound and true so sound and true, 
indeed, that it has been long ago accepted 
by the race and may be found in any good 
first reader. 




IN an unguarded moment, when I was 
the editor of a magazine, I invited let 
ters on the subject "My Marriage"; 
and the letters came, not in hundreds, but 
in thousands. 

I confess that the reading of them left 
me with a certain sense of depression 
so large a percentage were from wives 
who do not like their husbands, and from 
husbands who wish they had never married 
their wives. 

Of course, I might have expected that, 
if I had thought about it in advance; and 
there is in it no real cause for discourage 

Happy nations, according to the old say 
ing, have brief histories; and the same is 
true of contented couples. 

" Oh, nothing ever happens to us," the 

Unhappy Husbands and Wives 141 

happy wife or husband says, a bit wistfully. 
" We just float along from day to day; we 
hardly know where the time goes." 

But the individual who is not happy sup 
poses himself something unique in the 
world. He broods over his troubles; he 
wonders why Heaven has set him apart 
from all mankind to bear so great a disap 
pointment. And, feeling thus, he em 
braces every opportunity to ease his spirit 
by complaint. 

There are many men and women in the 
world, of course, who have no right to ex 
pect to be happily married. 

They misinterpret marriage. They em 
bark upon it as if on some sort of picnic; 
whereas a single moment s serious thought 
ought to convince them that it is the great 
est and most difficult profession in the 

They remind me of the man who was 
asked if he could play the violin, and an 
swered: " I don t know; I never tried." 

Marriage is not a pleasure excursion. 
It is a business to be studied; a kingdom to 
be conquered; a mine of precious treasure, 

142 It s a Good Old World 

which reveals itself only in response to 
patient work. 

Men who study years to master the com 
paratively simple professions of law or 
medicine or journalism suppose that the 
mere accident of their being males is all 
that is necessary to make them successful 

Girls who have never learned to carry 
through capably the simplest operations of 
life dance blithely into the most intimate 
and subtle and baffling of human relation 
ships. And, naturally, there are wrecks. 

Sorrow and disappointment in some de 
gree come to all of us, deserving or unde 
serving: no couple can hope completely to 
avoid them. But there are certain rocks 
in the channel of the good ship Marriage 
that ought to be cleared away at the very 
start. The rock called Money, for ex 

" I hate to ask John for money," said a 
wife to me last week, " because if I don t 
ask him I 11 probably get more." 

No woman ought ever to have to ask 
her husband for money. 

Unhappy Husbands and Wives 143 

She ought to have a salary a fixed, 
regular part of her husband s income, de 
ducted first, not last; and apportioned to 
her with the understanding that it is hers, 
not because he gives it to her, but because 
she has earned it by her contribution to 
their common life. 

Until the world recognizes that the busi 
ness of contributing children to the race 
and training them is the most splendid of 
all professions, far more important than 
anything that any man does in any office, 
and ought to be paid for accordingly, we 
shall continue to have wives " asking " 
their husbands for money, and marriages 
going into the discard on that account. 

Most of all, no man or woman can be 
permanently happy unless each has within 
himself some green pastures on which his 
soul can feed; some reservoir of content 
ment and self-sufficiency, created by him 
self for his own refreshment. 

The restlessness of the modern woman 
that we read so much about, the envy of 
men and women toward people who seem 
better off, rise largely from the false as- 

144 It s a Good Old World 

sumption that what is outside a man or 

woman has the power to create or destroy 


Nothing outside yourself can make you 

happy, if you are barren inside. 

" The kingdom of heaven is within you." 
On that great undying truth successful 

marriages always have been and always 

must be built. 


A MAN had died, and the whole city 
mourned his going. At a club we 
were discussing him, reminding ourselves 
of one characteristic and another that had 
endeared him to us. 

Finally a man whose name is famous 

" You know our friend hardly had a fair 
start," he said quietly. " Nature did not 
mean to let him be a big man. She 
equipped him with very ordinary talents. 

" I can remember the first time I heard 
him speak. It was a very stumbling per 
formance. Yet, in his later years, we re 
garded him as one of the real orators of 
his generation. 

" His mind was neither very original nor 
very profound; but he managed to build a 
great institution, and the imprint of his 
influence is on ten thousand lives." 

146 It s a Good Old World 

The speaker stopped, and we urged him 

" How then do you account for his suc 
cess? " we asked. 

" It is simple," he replied. " He 
merely forgot himself. When he spoke, 
his imperfections were lost in the glow of 
his enthusiasm. When he organized, the 
fire of his faith burned away all obstacles. 
He abandoned himself utterly to his task; 
and the task molded him into greatness." 

A few days afterward I spent some 
hours in the home of a very wealthy man. 

" Young men come and ask me to use 
my influence in their behalf to secure them 
this or that promotion," he said. " And 
I am amazed, not by their requests, but by 
the attitude toward life which prompts 

" I feel like saying to them : The very 
fact that you spend your time and thought 
campaigning for another position proves 
that you are not worthy even of the posi 
tion that you now hold. 

Then he went on to speak about his own 
career, which started with the salary of 

Medium-Sized Men 147 

an office boy and has carried him so far. 

" I never asked for an increase in sal 
ary," he said; " I never asked for promo 
tion or even thought about it. I had only 
one single thought how to make that 
company as great and as influential as it 
possibly could be. I believed that by ex 
tending its influence we were extending hu 
man happiness; more than anything else, I 
wanted to see it reach people in every 
corner of the world. 

We made that vision come true; and 
those of us who achieved it discovered 
that the company to which we had given 
our lives, had given them back to us a 
hundred times richer than our own selfish 
thought and planning could possibly have 
made them." 

It is Emerson who somewhere says that 
the average run of men fret and worry 
themselves into nameless graves, while 
here and there a great unselfish soul for 
gets itself into immortality. 

Many hundred years before, a much 
wiser Man had said: " For whosoever 
will save his life shall lose it; and whoso- 

148 It s a Good Old World 

ever will lose his life for my sake shall 
find it." 

A rather cryptic utterance; so contra 
dictory in sound that the majority of men 
pass it by unheeding. 

But now and then there comes a man 
who, sensing its truth, harnesses his life to 
it, forgetting every selfish thought and 

Often he knows himself to be a little 
man; or, at best, only medium-sized. 

But the world, beholding the marvel of 
his influence, remembers him and calls him 




the ablest and most attractive men of 
his time. Yet he made this fundamental 
mistake : he picked out the wrong thing to 
live for. 

Looking about to see what was most 
worth while in life, he decided for fame 
and fortune and thought they might most 
surely be secured through the favor of 
Queen Elizabeth. For her favor he de 
meaned himself, and neglected his wife, 
and was constantly in petty intrigues un 
becoming his talents. 

At the end the fickle queen turned upon 
him and cast him into London Tower. 
And her successor sent him to the block. 

Every age has its quota of Sir Walters: 
strong men who trade their lives for this 
or that, and at the close have traded them 
selves empty-handed. 

150 It s a Good Old World 

And no man has more important busi 
ness than to determine very early what is 
really worth having being sure that the 
object he selects is one that can be de 
pended upon to satisfy him not merely 
through his full-blooded years, but up 
through the testing hours at the last. 

What is such an object? Money? 

I wish that every young man in the 
world could see, as I once saw, a man who 
had bartered his soul for money, and who 
woke one morning to discover that it had 
vanished overnight. Surely a possession 
that can so quickly fly away, and that leaves 
such shriveled souls behind it, cannot be 
the supreme good. 

Fame? Political preferment? Horace 
Greeley was as famous as any man of his 
period; he let his ambition carry him into 
the race for the Presidency, and losing the 
race, died of a broken heart. 

There is a finer formula than either of 
these. Plato stated it, centuries ago: 

I therefore, Callicles, am persuaded by these 
accounts, and consider how I may exhibit my 

Greatest Sporting Proposition 151 

soul before the judge in a healthy condition. 
Wherefore, disregarding the honors that most 
men value, and looking to the truth, I shall 
endeavor to live as virtuously as I can; and 
when I die, to die so. And I invite all other 
men, to the utmost of my power; and you too 
I in turn invite to this contest, which I affirm 
surpasses all contests here. 

A great game in which the player is a 
man s best self on the one side, and on 
the other all the temptations and the 
disappointments and the buffeting of cir 

The game of making yourself the best 
you can be, let Fate say what it will; of 
so investing the years and the talents you 
have as to cause the largest number of 
people to be glad, the fewest to be sorry, 
and coming to the end with the least regret. 

" Be diligent," wrote Polycarp to Igna 
tius. " Be diligent. Be sober as God s 
athlete. Stand like a beaten anvil." 

I do not know how any man can stand 
like a beaten anvil who has only money 
to stand upon; or only a reputation that 
may vanish as quickly as it came; or a 

152 It s a Good Old World 

ribbon which is pinned on his coat to-day 
and may be taken off to-morrow. 

But let him have invested his life in the 
mastery and the cultivation of his own 
best self, and he has laid up riches that 
cannot be lost. 

Whatever obstacles, whatever disap 
pointments may come, are merely added 
chances against him, contributing to the 
zest of the contest. 

And in the end he has this surpassing 
reward, a clear conscience and a vision 
unafraid the prize of the victor in the 
greatest sporting proposition in the world. 


IT is five o clock on a winter afternoon. 
Looking out from my office on the 
fifteenth floor, I see thousands of lights 
in the offices all about me. Thousands of 
offices, all full of people. 

And I wonder again to myself, as often 
before, how they all live. Through what 
intricate stages of evolution have we come 
from the days when our ancestors raised 
their own food, made their own shoes and 
clothes, and lived their simple, self-con 
tained and self-supporting lives! 

What millions of artificial wants we 
have created to support this vast organiza 
tion of modern business ! 

Thousands of people packed into 
great hives, one tier above another 

Retailers living off wholesalers; whole 
salers living off manufacturers : and all liv 
ing off the farmer. 


154 It s a Good Old World 

What would happen if for one single 
year the farmers should decide to quit 
work and come to town? 

I watch the lights flicker out as one man 
after another closes his desk and starts for 

And in my heart I can not repress a 
slight feeling of superiority toward them 
poor dependent folk. They are going 
home to meals that come to them only by 
grace of the good nature and effort of 
honest tillers of the soil. 

Part of my meal will come to me in like 
manner. But part of it 

Part of it is beans. Last summer I 
delved in the earth and raised them with 
my own effort. And in the kitchen of our 
little white house we imprisoned their 
flavor and fragrance. 

Only food raised by one s own toil is 
perfect food. 

All beans have strings all but the 
beans that we raise on our own place. 

I have eaten in the homes of the mighty, 
and never yet have I encountered sandless 
spinach. But the sand in the spinach that 

To a Can of Beans 155 

we raise ah, just a trace of sand. A su 
perior, far more edible sand. A kind of 
healthy sand, to give strength and fiber 
to the system. 

As a favorite melody played in the eve 
ning brings back the memory of glad days, 
so those melodies in cans our beans and 
corn and spinach carry to us, even into 
the twilight of winter, the summer hours 
that were, and are to be again. 

Hours when we woke up with bird notes 
in our ears and the fragrance of the ram 
bler calling to us. And after breakfast, 
taking our hoe in hand, we went out to the 
little plot of land which a few weeks ago 
had been nothing, and which by our effort 
had become a part of the battle-line of Eu 
rope, a feeder of the world. 

The winters no longer have any terror 
for me: I cut them short at either end. 

For the beans of last summer s canning 
carry the sunshine of that garden clear into 
February: and in February the seed cat 
alogs arrive, with the scent and sunshine of 
the garden to come. 

I commend to you that system of rob- 

156 It s a Good Old World 

bing winter of its terrors: I counsel you to 
start to-day to warm the shaded places of 
your soul with the thought of next sum 
mer s garden. 

There is greater need for food this year 
than ever in the modern world so you 
shall have the satisfaction of those whose 
duty is well done. 

There will be better health for you in 
the digging and that alone is reward 

But, more than all, you shall have that 
special sense of independence as you walk 
among the mass of your dependent fellow 
men the proud elevation of one who 
needs not to ask of any man, since in his 
own cellar he hath beans, raised on his own 
good soil, canned by his own right hand. 


ONE of the wisest observations in the 
world was made by our old friend 
Mr. Dooley. 

" Lookin around me, I see many great 
changes takin place," he said; "but 
lookin back fifty years, I see hardly any 
change at all." 

Unless one gets a certain perspective 
on what is taking place about him, his life 
will be one succession of panics. 

It is necessary to take a long look; to 
realize that human nature does not change ; 
that in any age the same set of circum 
stances will produce about the same re 
sults; and that, slowly but surely, certain 
great principles are working themselves 
out in the world. 

This is the value of reading history. 
And right now is a good time to do a little 

158 It s a Good Old World 

reading of history; a few hours spent with 
a Life of Lincoln will be especially reas 

You are worried because the Govern 
ment at Washington seems so dawdling 
and ineffective. 

See how Lincoln dawdled with the rebel 
lion: postponing the relief of Sumter un 
til it was too late; allowing things to drift 
while the South armed itself with govern 
ment equipment and gained the advantage 
of superior preparation. 

It depressed you to see a United States 
Senator making a vulgar attack upon a 
man like Herbert Hoover, who sacrificed 
every personal interest to serve the nation. 

All right. Before you give up hope, 
turn back and read the attacks that were 
made upon Lincoln. 

Our enemies of the late war were three 
thousand miles away; but the enemies of 
1 86 1 were at the very door of the Capital; 
and still Congressmen talked and Senators 
worried about their patronage. 

Your faith in democracy is shaken be 
cause it seems impossible for the politicians 

Lincoln Pulled Through 159 

to put aside their petty interests even in 
the face of national emergency. 

Lincoln, wrestling with the problem of 
saving the Union, was so besieged by of 
fice-seeking politicians that he exclaimed: 
" If the twelve apostles were to be chosen 
again, I suppose they would have to be 
distributed according to geographical di 

And at another time he burst out upon 
a delegation of Senators who wanted Sew- 
ard s head: 

You gentlemen, to hang Mr. Seward, 
would destroy the government! " 

If the state of the public mind for the 
past few months were to be represented by 
a chart, the line would look like the record 
of a fever patient s temperature. 

One day we were excited by reports of 
German weakness and Allied success; and 
up went our hopes of early peace. The 
next day, with no special developments, 
our thoughts turned to the inefficiencies of 
Washington, and we were thrown into 
deep despair. 

A long view is necessary: the sooner we 

160 It s a Good Old World 

train ourselves to take it, the happier and 
more effective we will be. 

The war was won by the Allies, be 
cause democracy fought on their side, and 
the whole trend of the world since the Re 
formation has been toward democracy. 

But it had its ups and downs: there 
were days of good news and days of bad. 
The wise man held his spirits in check on 
both days, looking toward the final result, 
and allowing himself to be neither unduly 
elated nor unduly depressed. 

A monarchy, as some one said, is like a 
trim, tight yacht. It is easily handled, 
and those on board are dry and warm. 
But once it hits a reef it is a total loss. 

A democracy is a raft; those on board 
have their feet in the water most of the 
time, but they can not sink. 

The very things that serve to make us 
inefficient in war free speech, unlimited 
debate, a government organized for peace 
instead of war are the very things that 
make life worth living for us in normal 

And one reason why we pray for the de- 

Lincoln Pulled Through 161 

mocratization of the world is just because 
democracies make war so ineptly. Our 
hope for the future is founded on this 
that before two democracies can get in 
shape to hurt each other very much the 
passions of their people will cool. 

Be patient with the ineptness, the ineffi 
ciencies, and the extravagances of democ 
racy. Lincoln pulled through in spite of 
them; and so shall we. 


LOOKING back over the history of 
some of the previous wars in the 
world, I came across the campaign which 
David waged against the Amalekites. 

They had swarmed down upon his home 
district during his absence on important 
business, and had burned his city, Ziklag. 
When he returned, it was to find smoking 
ruins, and the women of the city gone, in 
cluding even his own wives. 

So he set out with six hundred men, to 
seek revenge. Four hundred men he kept 
with him to do the fighting, and two hun 
dred he ordered to " tarry by the stuff." 

The battle was fought, the Amalekites 
defeated, and the victors returned laden 
with their spoils. 

They were flushed and greedy with their 

conquest : they looked with scorn upon the 

two hundred men who had not fought. 

Why should they who had risked their 


"Who Tarry By the Stuff 163 

lives divide with those who had remained 

But David, looking at both groups of 
men, those who had borne the burden of 
battle and those who at home had kept 
the country and its possessions safe, re 

" As his part is that goeth down to the 
battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by 
the stuff: they shall part alike." 

And the account continues : " It was so 
from that day forward, that he made it a 
statute and an ordinance for Israel unto 
this day." 

I am thinking of those men who wanted 
to go to war and couldn t; of those who 
were compelled to " tarry by the stuff." 

I know how they feel : I have talked with 
dozens of them. 

They read the stirring news of war in 
every paper : they heard the bands play and 
saw the flags wave : one after another, 
their friends appeared in uniform. 

And inside themselves the fight went on 
^ the call to the colors against the call of 
the duty that lay at home. 

1 64 It s a Good Old World 

I wish I might point out to those men 
this one great truth : 

Wars are full of curious phenomena: 
and one of the most curious is this that 
often the nation that wins a war really 
loses it. 

Germany won the war with France in 
1870. Her troops marched home tri 
umphant: out of Paris rolled a great train 
loaded with the indemnity of millions of 

And what happened? 

The prosperity that followed that in 
demnity corrupted the moral fiber of Ger 
many. The flush of conquest made mili 
tarism the national god. Out of that ill- 
gotten victory grew all the crassness that 
has had its final fruitage in the war just 

And France, shorn of her egotism by 
defeat, forced by her indemnity to practise 
thrift, grew stronger and firmer and finer 
than she had ever been before. 

The years that followed our Civil War 
make up the least attractive period of our 

"Who Tarry By the Stuff 165 

Go through the country and you can pick 
out almost unerringly the houses that were 
constructed in that period ugly archi 
tecture, mirroring ugly thoughts. 

Politically it was the period of the 
bloody shirt: spiritually it was noisy with 
agnosticism: financially it saw speculation 
and corruption, ending in the panic of 73. 

We won the late war on the battle-field. 

The question is, shall we win it also at 

Shall there emerge from the war a 
thriftier nation, living more simply and 
more wholesomely; a more unselfish na 
tion, trained to sacrifice; a more spiritual 
nation, dedicated to a great ideal? 

The man who could not go to war, but 
who devoted himself unselfishly to service 
here at home, need not feel that he had no 
part in the great conflict. 

Let him not for one moment forget that 
he was helping to make America s military 
victory a moral and a spiritual victory as 

Helping even while he " tarried by the 


SEVERAL years ago I had a talk with 
a veteran of the Civil War. 

I can see him now as he sat on his 
piazza, stroking his white whiskers and 
talking to me lugubriously. 

A crowd of high-school boys passed us, 
shouting and jostling each other: and the 
old man, watching them with sad eyes, 
made them the text of his dissertation. 

" The moral fiber of our youth is de 
teriorating," he said sorrowfully. Why, 
at their age I was carrying a gun in the 
defense of my country. When I look at 
those thoughtless boys and think what 
might happen to our country if another 
war should come, I give you my word, sir, 
I shudder." 

The good old man is gone beyond all 
shuddering: but I wish so much he might 
have lived. 


The Good Old Days 167 

For another war came. 

And the poor old country that he wor 
ried about had nothing but those thought 
less boys to depend on. 

Nothing but those thoughtless boys 
indeed. One day I picked up the local 
paper from that town, and there were their 
pictures hundreds of them, all in uni 

Transformed overnight from thought 
less boys into men by their country s need. 
Just as he and his companions were trans 
formed, fifty years ago. The same sort 
of crisis, the same boy-stuff, and the same 
glorious result. 

Of all the fine old fakes that have en 
slaved the human mind, there is none 
greater than the myth of the " good old 

The Greeks were subject to it, looking 
back always to their fabled " Golden Age." 

The Hebrews had it also. They wor- : 
shiped the memory of Abraham who was 
dead, and made life miserable for Moses 
who was alive. 

Woe unto you ! because ye build the 

1 68 It s a Good Old World 

tombs of the prophets, and garnish the 
sepulchers of the righteous," said Jesus, 
" and are yourselves the children of them 
which killed the prophets." 

We Americans are subject to the same 

We look back to the great departed days 
of the Revolution, when every man was a 
patriot, and nobody thought of anything 
but the glory of his country. 

Yet only the other day, in the letters of 
one of the founders of the Republic to an 
other one, I read this sentence: 

" What a lot of scoundrels we had in 
that second Congress, did n t we? " 

A successful man recently said to me : 
" My partner is very gloomy about the 
national outlook. He thinks that the gov 
ernment is in the hands of fools, and that 
we face very disastrous times." 

And I said to him: " I have never met 
your partner, but I will describe him to you. 
He is about fifty-five years old, and his 
health is not as good as it was, and he has 
quite a good deal of property." 

My friend acknowledged the portrait. 

The Good Old Days 169 

" But how did you know? " he asked. 

And I told him that you may guess a 
man s age by knowing in what direction his 
eyes are pointed. 

Youth looks straight ahead into the 
future, firm-eyed and confident. Middle 
age is likely to look to the side, saying to 
itself: " So-and-So, who walks beside me, 
seems to be better off than I." 

But this is the sign of old age that it 
looks behind and talks sadly of the " good 
old days." 

Let not that baneful sign be fastened on 
you : let no one convince you that the world 
does not progress. 

For we live, as President Wilson says, 
in a time that calls for " forward looking 
men "< men who, looking through the 
eyes of faith and confidence, can see the 
coming of the " good old days" just over 
the next hill-top straight ahead. 



ERE is a passage from a very dis 
couraged man: 

" If what I feel were equally distributed to 
the whole human family there would not be one 
cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall ever be 
better I cannot tell. I awfully forbode I shall 
not. To remain as I am is quite impossible. I 
must die to be better, it appears to me." 

Another man equally spiritless wrote 

" Why, forsooth, am I in the world ? Since 
death must come to me, why should it not be as 
well to kill myself. . . . Since I began life in 
suffering misfortune and nothing gives me pleas 
ure, why should I endure these days, when noth 
ing I am concerned in prospers? " 

Poor miserable failures. When the 
price of white paper is so high why should 
I be allowed to soil a page with the out 
pourings of such incompetents? 


Everybody Has Something 

Well, the author of the first passage 
made a considerable reputation for him 
self in later life; his name was Abraham 
Lincoln. And the other cry of defeat was 
uttered by a gentleman named Napoleon 

There is a very popular notion in the 
world that men are divided into two classes 
the fortunate and the unfortunate. 

In the one class are those to whom every 
good gift has been given. They have 
health, and joy in living and the natural 
capacity for achievement. 

The other class includes those who, by 
some handicap beyond their ability to con 
quer, are kept from being the successes 
that they ought to be. 

This is the popular notion, I say, a no 
tion invented by us ordinary folks as an 
alibi for our own short-comings. We like 
to assume that the reasons for our medioc 
rity are beyond our control that if only 
we had been given more health or more 
money or more education or more some 
thing or other, we would have been some 
thing very different. It pleases us to in- 

172 It s a Good Old World 

dulge ourselves in envy toward those who 
just could n t help succeeding. 

But what are the facts? 

If any man ever lived and attained re 
markable success who did not have some 
serious handicap to contend with, I have 
failed to discover that man in my reading. 

Beethoven could not possibly become a 
great musician. He began to grow deaf 
at twenty-six. 

Pope had a wonderful alibi for not try 
ing to amount to anything. He was a 

Demosthenes stammered; Julius Caesar 
had fits; Lamb was tied to a clerk s desk; 
Byron had a club foot; Dr. Johnson was a 
constant sufferer. 

Whether success is worth the effort and 
sacrifice to attain it has been much debated. 
You and I may, if we choose, decide that a 
comfortable mediocrity is the most satis 
factory answer to the problem of living. 

We have a perfect right to that decision. 

But let s not fool ourselves with the idea 
that some handicap is responsible for our 
mediocrity. The difference between great 

Everybody Has Something 173 

men and the rest of us is chiefly a difference 
of spirit of determination and the will 
that refuses to recognize defeat. 

Nature is a very jealous distributor of 
gifts. Nobody gets a loo /o equipment 
for life. The game is to see how much we 
can do with the cards we have to play. 

The real good sports do not talk about 
their handicaps; but you can depend on it 
that if you knew all the facts you would 
discover that every one of them has some 


THIS is the tale of two farmers, both 
of whom are dead. As a youngster 
I visited one of them. He and his wife 
were earnest folks, who worked hard every 
iay and saved money. The world thought 
them honest and thrifty. 

But honest and thrifty are better words 
than either of them deserved; penurious 
and sordid describe them better. Never 
in all my life have I entered a home where 
the worship of money was so constant and 

At meal time the talk was all of the cost 
of food, until the lettuce looked like dollar 
bills to me, and the butter gleamed like 

For money the woman denied herself 

every comfort and satisfaction, dying 

dried-up at forty-five. A little money 

spent for medical care would have saved 


Working for It 

the life of the son of the house, but the 
family debated the expenditure until it 
was too late, and sacrificed the boy. 

So for the last twenty years of his life 
the old man lived alone, figuring over 
again the hoard that might have repre 
sented so much in happiness and growth 
and love. 

He told me once that he had more than 
$16,000 in the bank; and even then he did 
not understand that the $16,000 was the 
price of his soul. 

The other farmer left a good deal less 
than $16,000 when he passed out; most of 
the money he might have hoarded had been 
invested in things more enduring than 
stocks and bonds. 

Some of it went into the education of 
his children, who are the finest, most prog 
ressive citizens in their county to-day. 
Some of it went into books and into trips, 
while he and his wife were still young 
enough to get the largest enjoyment out 
of the trips. 

He had no slacker dollars which moth 
and rust corrupt; every dollar that passed 

176 It s a Good Old World 

through his hands had to do its maximum 
work in buying happiness and friendships, 
and family pleasure and growth. So, 
open-heartedly, he lived, and died as one 
who knew full well that life had withheld 
no good thing from him. 

John Ruskin tells this incident: 

" Lately, in the wreck of a Californian 
ship, one of the passengers fastened a belt 
about him with two hundred pounds of 
gold in it, with which he was found after 
ward at the bottom. Now, as he was sink 
ing, had he the gold, or had the gold 

We are all passengers working our way 
on a ship that is destined in the end to sink. 

Some of us work for money, some make 
their money work and in the difference 
between those phrases lies often the differ 
ence between a successful and an unsuc 
cessful trip. 

For real wealth, as Ruskin says again, 
" is the possession of the valuable by the 
valiant." It may consist in gold and sil 
ver, or in books, or a home, or the love of 
little children, or the capacity to laugh. 

Working for It 177 

But it is never mere money, hoarded at 
the sacrifice of life. 

Such money no man ever owns: it owns 
the owner, works him pitilessly, robs him 
of the joys of life, and in the end destroys 


A VERY prominent manufacturer of 
pianos and pipe organs died some 
years ago. And this is the story that is 
told of him. 

He was very near to the end; the family 
were gathered about, when a maid entered 
the room hesitatingly and announced that 
Joe, the organ tuner from the factory, was 
at the door. 

" Send him up," said the dying man; and 
Joe came up. 

" Joe, I want you to go down stairs and 
put the organ in first class condition," he 
commanded. " We expect to have a large 
gathering of people here in a few days, and 
every note must be right." 

Can you picture the scene? Does n t it 
make you a little prouder of belonging to 
the human race, when you think about it? 

Some weeks ago the directors of a na- 

Up to the End 179 

tional institution held their annual meeting 
in New York. The President, who has 
been kept alive for the past five years only 
by the power of an indomitable will, ad 
dressed them: 

" In order that the interests of the insti 
tution may be conserved, I feel that you 
should at this time consider who is to be 
my successor," he said. And with them 
he discussed quite impersonally various 
candidates who might fill his place when he 
should be dead. 

The doctors have told him that he can 
not possibly live more than another two 
years, and may die at any moment. He 
knows their verdict: it affects him not at 
all. Up to the last breath he will keep 
going, all thought of himself buried in his 
devotion to his task; and he will die as he 
has lived, fighting to the last breath. 

There are those who run from the 
thought of death, as children run from the 
dark. No magazine should mention the 
word, they say; it is an " unpleasant sub 
ject " morbid and depressing. 

On the contrary it seems to me that there 

i8o It s a Good Old World 

is nothing more inspiring than to see the 
way in which the brave men and women of 
the world have walked unflinchingly to the 

" My friends, I die in peace, and with 
sentiments of universal love and kindness 
toward all men," said Robert Emmet, the 
great Irish patriot. 

With those words he shook hands with 
some persons on the scaffold, presented 
his watch to the hangman and assisted in 
adjusting the rope around his own neck. 

" Carry my bones before you on your 
march, for the rebels will not be able to 
endure the sight of me alive or dead," 
Edward I instructed his son. 

Even at the end of the path, his eyes 
were fastened on the future and fear was 
swallowed up in his determination for the 
success of his enterprise. 

Draw a line through human history at 
the time of the birth of Christ, and com 
pare the last words of men who died be 
fore that date with the words of those who 
passed on afterwards. The contrast is 

Up to the End 181 

Before He came men went shuddering 
into oblivion. After Him the great souls 
of the world passed through the gate as 
conquerors, merely changing their armour 
in preparation for another and more glori 
ous crusade. 

Sir Henry Havelock, approaching his 
last hour, called his son to the bedside: 

" Come, my son," he cried, " and see 
how a Christian can die." 

The object of Christianity is to teach 
men better how to live; but it would have 
justified itself a thousand fold had it done 
nothing except to teach men how worthily 
to die. 

Not as victims; not as baffled players 
in a game where all must finally lose; but 
as men a little lower than the angels 
faithful, self-confident and unafraid. 


A YOUNG man writes me this letter : 
" I am employed in the post-office 
at $100 a month. The salary is sufficient 
to keep my family comfortable, but I sim 
ply loathe the work. I see no chance of 
promotion in it, and it demands so many 
of my evenings that I have practically no 
home life at all. Don t you think that 
under these circumstances I am justified in 
looking around for something more con 
genial? " 

My answer to him is : Every day you 
remain in that post-office is a day lost out 
of your life. You are to live only once. 
What is the very best thing a man can get 
out of life? 

To be happy in his work and at home. 

You are happy neither in your work 

nor at home. You are wasting the only 

existence that will ever be yours in this 

world. You will come to the end of your 


In Love e with Your Job 183 

road and, looking back, will say to your 
self: "I was cheated. Other men had 
life and happiness: I had only life." 

No matter what the immediate sacri 
fice, find your real place in the world 
the job that will call out your whole best 

For until you have found it you bear 
on your forehead the mark of discontent 
that employers shun. The stars in their 
courses fight against you. 

" No matter what your work is, let it 
be yours," said Emerson. " No matter if 
you are a tinker or a preacher or a black 
smith or president, let what you are doing 
be organic, let it be in your bones, and 
you open the door by which the affluence of 
heaven and earth shall stream into you." 

I know of nothing so inspiring as to 
read the lives of men who were in love with 
their work. 

Agassiz, the great naturalist, used to 
say that he believed " the fishes would die 
for him just to give him their skeletons." 

Edmund Halley, the astronomer, was 
another happy workman. 

184 It s a Good Old World 

Finding, in his youth, that other as 
tronomers had undertaken to catalogue the 
stars of the northern hemisphere, he loaded 
a telescope on a boat and started to the 
southern hemisphere. On shipboard he 
was busy every minute, and made impor 
tant discoveries. 

Then it occurred to him that if one 
could study the transit of Venus that 
is, observe Venus at the time when her 
orbit crosses the orbit of the sun one 
could gather data from which to figure the 
weight of the sun, its distance from the 
earth, and many other important facts 
about the solar system. 

But the next transit of Venus was not 
to occur until 1769. It was almost certain 
that Halley could not live that long. 

As a matter of fact, he died in 1742. 

But when 1769 rolled round, the as 
tronomers of that day found all ready and 
waiting for them the formulas which Hal- 
ley had prepared. 

The man who had loved his work so 
whole-heartedly in life lived on triumphant 

In Love with Your Job 185 

over death. His devotion had won him 

I should want to be paid at least $50,- 
ooo a year to be president of a brewery or 
a civil engineer. Because I hate beer and 

But I write editorials at a few dollars 
less a year, because I love it. 

And, loving it, I know that I shall 
some day make a comfortable living. 

For there is a competency for any man 
in any job in the world into which he can 
put his whole self enthusiastically. 

" He did it with all his heart," as I have 
quoted of Hezekiah before, " and pros 




I MET him in the smoking car, and he 
told me he was a steel worker, on his 
way to find a job in one of the new ship 
yards. I remarked that the wages must 
be very large in the shipyards. 

" On the contrary," he answered, " I 
shall be making less than I made at home 

and I 11 be away from my family be 

" But I had to do it," he continued, and 
his eyes flashed as he spoke. " It s my 
way of doing my part my contribution 
to the men that are fighting to make this 
a safe world for my kids." 

When he left the train I reflected that 
this is one of the unfortunate facts of war 

that it calls forth the sacrifice of the 
whole nation, and honors the sacrifice of 

only a very few. 


Distributing Medals 187 

We have the Congressional medal for 
the man who, in one moment of valor, 
hurls himself over the trench; and nobly, 
in truth, does he deserve it. But where 
is the medal for the man who, day after 
day, quietly, unobtrusively, does his job, 
as conscientiously as if the very safety of 
the Republic were dependent on it? 

The farther I go in the world the more 
I distrust the mere outward signs of great 
ness the titles and the bank rolls and the 
popular applause. 

More and more I pin my faith to the 
spirit in which a man s life job is done. 

" If God were to send two angels to 
earth," said Stephen Tying, " one to sit 
on the throne of England and the other to 
sweep the streets of London, the service 
of the two would be equally honored in 
His sight." 

I am not writing to reconcile men who 
have failed, to failure; I have no sympathy 
with any man who weakly contents himself 
with being less in the world than his best. 

But I grow very impatient with the kind 
of talk and writing which would make us 

1 88 It s a Good Old World 

believe that there is only one sort of cour 
age the courage of battlefield; and only 
one sort of success the success of money, 
and fame. 

Every man has in his heart the seeds of 
courage; and every man the possibilities of 

It may be success in finance or in brick 
laying; in government or in gardening. It 
matters not: the measure of it is the same. 

And that measure consists not in wealth 
or titles, but in a man s own self-respect, 
his own deep-lying consciousness that he 
has, with the tools that were given him, 
done his level best. 

There lived one time a man named 
Moses whose experience with democracy 
was not altogether encouraging. 

He saved his people from slavery; and 
a good part of the time they grumbled at 
him for doing it. 

" Would to God that all the Lord s peo 
ple were prophets ! " he exclaimed one 
day. By which I take it that Re meant, 
"Would to God there were a spark of 
divinity in them that would make them 

Distributing Medals 189 

capable of wider vision, a larger measure 
of self-sacrifice." 

Had he been able to see a little deeper, 
Moses might have discovered that his wish 
was fulfilled: that there is in every man 
precisely the divinity for which he yearned. 

War discovers that divinity as no other 
great experience can. All around me I 
see merchants, and day laborers, and farm 
ers who have risen to a height of self- 
sacrifice which is a revelation to themselves 
and to all who know them. 

It is our misfortune that there is no out 
ward symbol with which to reward that 
splendor. The business of awarding 
medals has fallen into certain well-defined 

Perhaps some day we shall see more 
clearly and reward with greater wisdom, 
honoring equally the sacrifice of the bat 
tlefield and the sacrifice at home. 

For both are sparks of the same divin 
ity twin manifestations of the presence 
of the same great Oversoul. 


IN an office not far from mine is a man 
thirty-six years old whose title is " Of 
fice Manager." 

So far as salary is concerned he is not 
a failure. He makes a living for himself 
and family; he carries a little life insur 
ance and saves a little money. 

But in his heart he knows he has failed; 
he is, a woeful, pathetic misfit. 

Nature intended him for a farmer: he 
wanted to go to an agricultural college, 
and his father sent him to a business school 
instead. The call of the soil is in his ears, 
and he must stifle it with the click of a 

He is one of the vast army of those 
whose brief time on this earth has been 
largely lost because they never found the 
work for which they were made. 

The Finest Investment 191 

When I consider how vast that army is, 
and the bitterness of its tragedy, I marvel 
that fathers do not consider the question 
of their sons careers with prayer and fast 

Instead of which there are many men 
who treat the lives of their sons as though 
they were mere pawns in the game, to be 
moved lightly here or there. 

Michelangelo wanted to be an artist: 
from his earliest days in school he neg 
lected everything to be busy with his pen. 
Yet his father and uncles, far from wel 
coming his interest as a direct gift from 
Heaven, " beat him cruelly, for they hated 
the profession of artist, and, in their ig 
norance of the nobility of art, it seemed a 
disgrace to have one in the house." 

John Adams s father tried by main force 
to settle the boy at a cobbler s bench for 

Handel s father despised music and 
would not have a musical instrument in 
the house. 

Tennyson s grandfather, tossing the lad 
ten shillings for an elegy on his grand- 

192 It s a Good Old World 

mother, remarked: "There, that s the 
first money you ever earned by your poetry, 
and, take my word for it, it will be the 

When Lowell s father learned that his 
son had won the prize offered by Harvard 
University for the finest poem written by 
an undergraduate, he received the news in 

" I had hoped," he said sadly, " that 
under the steadying influence of college 
James would become less flighty." 

Lowell spoke out of the depths of per 
sonal experience when he wrote: 

" It is the vain endeavor to make our 
selves what we are not that has strewn his 
tory with so many broken purposes and 
lives left in the rough." 

Not all fathers, by any means, have been 
shortsighted. A great majority, fortu 
nately for the world, have considered the 
selection of the right career by their sons 
as the most important problem of their 

The business world is full of kindly, big- 
visioned men who have given time and 

The Finest Investment 193 

thought, not merely to guiding their own 
sons careers, but also to setting the feet 
of other men s sons on the path of success. 

There can be no more satisfactory em 
ployment. No man could have a finer epi 
taph than this: " He was the friend and 
helper of young men." 

Organizations fail, stocks prove worth 
less, the most carefully made investments 
too often leak away. But a young life 
fitted into its proper place in the world is 
an investment whose power goes on 
through the years, and even into eternity. 

" Blessed is the man who has found his 
work," said Carlyle. 

And thrice blessed is the man who 
helped that man to find it. 




A YOUNG man came one day to Lorin 
F. Deland, that wise adviser to busi 
ness men, and said this: "I have been 
three years in the same job, and I feel that 
I am entirely lost sight of by my employers. 
There is no future ahead of me; I am dis 
couraged and hopeless. What shall I 

Mr. Deland answered: " I will under 
take to help you, but you must promise to 
do exactly as I say." The young man 
promised hopefully. 

" For thirty days," said Mr. Deland, 
" I want you to concentrate every working 
minute on the following problem : What 
suggestion can I make to my employer by 
which he can in the next calendar year in 
crease his sales $50,000, or $5,000, or 
$500, or $100? 

At the end of thirty days the young man 

Men Who Cross Bridges 195 

returned crestfallen to report that he had 
not been able to think of one single sug 

Mr. Deland then gave him this problem 
for the second month: 

" Devote every energy to discovering 
some way by which your employer can in 
the next year save $5,000, or $500, or $50 
in the cost of conducting his affairs." 

At the end of the second month the 
young man was back again with a second 
confession of failure. He said also that 
he had decided not to ask for any further 

Then Mr. Deland spoke his mind : 

So, Mills, you don t care for any more of my 
advice [he said]. Well, this time I am going to 
give it to you without your wanting it. My boy, 
just realize a moment where you stand. With 
the enormous amount of clothing business that 
is being done, you are not able, though you have 
been three years in this house, to increase the 
volume of business $100 a year; with the elabor 
ate and necessarily wasteful methods in which 
that great business is transacted, you are not near 
enough to it to point out a better system in any 

196 It s a Good Old World 

department whereby the small sum of $50 a year 
may be saved. 

My boy, lie low! Attract just as little atten 
tion to yourself as you can. Don t let the man 
ager remember that you have been three years in 
his employ if you can help it. If he knew how 
incapable you are of development or progress he 
would change you off for some young man of 
greater promise. Lie low, my boy, lie low. 

That young man was typical of thou 
sands the great unimaginative horde 
who have never in the slightest degree de 
veloped their imaginations. 

I do not like the phrase " never cross a 
bridge until you come to it "; it is used by 
too many men as a cloak for mental lazi 

The world is owned by men who cross 
bridges on their imaginations miles and 
miles in advance of the procession. 

Some men are born with more of imag 
ination than others; but it can, by hard 
work, be cultivated. 

Not by mere day-dreaming, not by lazy 
wondering, but by hard study and earnest 

Men Who Cross Bridges 197 

You and I said to ourselves idly: 
wonder what is going to happen when the 

war is over." 

But one day during the war I had 
luncheon with a group of men who said: 
" At least a thousand different develop 
ments are coming at the close of the war, 
each one of which will make men rich. 
Beginning to-day we start to study " 

I met another man who has recently 
been added to the staff of a great concern 
engaged in exporting goods to South 

That man has never seen South Amer 
ica; but on the day war was declared in 
Europe he said to himself: "Europe s 
trade with South America is coming to us. 
I am going to learn everything there is to 
know about that continent." 

He crossed his bridge four years in ad 

Looking into the future, what bridges 
do you see? 


A SERIOUS minded reader took me to 
task because a remark in an article 
of mine during the war seemed to him too 

" In ordinary times this might be all 
right," he reminded me; "but we are in 
the midst of a great war, and it is no time 
for jokes." 

To which I replied that we were in the 
midst of a great war therefore we 
should have twice as many jokes and they 
should be twice as funny. 

Only yesterday I was reading about a 
Cabinet meeting held at the White House 
in one of the most critical hours of our 
history. The incident was recorded by 
Secretary Stanton, not a particularly sym 
pathetic reporter. 

Around the table the various Secretaries 
gathered, solemn-faced and silent. To 
their amazement, the President, instead of 

We Shall Win 199 

turning to the business in hand, began read 
ing aloud a chapter from the humorous 
works of Artemus Ward. 

The Cabinet members were too aston 
ished to speak: Stanton was tempted to 
leave the room in angry protest. 

The President, unheeding, read the chap 
ter through. Then, laying the book down,, 
he heaved a deep sigh and said: 

" Gentlemen, why don t you laugh? 
With the fearful strain that is upon me 
night and day, if I did not laugh I should 
die; and you need this medicine as much 
as I." 

So saying, he turned to his tall hat, 
which was on the table beside him, and 
drew out what Stanton described as a " lit 
tle white paper." 

That little white paper was the Emanci 
pation Proclamation. 

The members of the Cabinet never could 
fathom the mingling of laughter and tears 
that was the secret of Lincoln s greatness. 

They were afraid of laughter: they re 
garded it as dangerous and in times like 
those almost immoral. 

200 It s a Good Old World 

But Lincoln knew better. Humor to 
him as to many another overburdened 
man was the great shock-absorber of 
life: without its kindly ministrations, the 
hard places of the road would have 
wrenched his soul beyond endurance. 

Napoleon seldom smiled; Cromwell had 
little sense of humor. Either of them 
would be a dangerous man to handle our 
affairs in times like these. 

Such men become too profoundly im 
pressed with their own importance. And 
in the critical moment their self-importance 
often betrays their better judgment. 

Give us, rather, men like Washington, 
who, as Irving writes, frequently leaned 
back and " laughed until the tears ran 
down his face." 

Men like Lincoln, whose point of view 
is so detached that they can laugh even at 

A saving sense of humor is the fourth 
great Christian virtue, says A. C. Benson. 
And that is so true that I wish it had been 
written in the Bible instead of in one of 
Mr. A. C. Benson s books. 

We Shall Win 201 

A man may have faith and hope and 
chanty, and still be a prig and a bore. 

Jesus was none of these. He was the 
most popular dinner guest in Jerusalem. 

No one ever criticized Him for being 
too serious minded and respectable. In 
stead, He was criticized for dining out too 
much, for not compelling His disciples to 
fast, and for being too much with the loud 
laughing crowd of " publicans and sin 

I have some righteous friends who are 
going to feel greatly shocked at the con 
duct of the saints in Heaven. 

They have never read that verse in the 
Bible which says : 

" He that sitteth in the heavens shall 

With all my heart I would urge them to 
begin right now even in serious days 
like these to cultivate that fourth great 
Christian virtue. 

Lest perchance they die, and in a 
heaven presided over by a God who dearly 
loves a laugh shall find themselves lone 
some and ill at ease. 


THERE was quite a little group of 
people on the curb-stone, waiting for 
a break in the stream of passing automo 
biles: among them two shop-girls and I. 

The girls recognized a woman in one of 
the limousines as the wife of a very rich 
New Yorker; and their comments were dis 
tinctly envious. 

I smiled to myself as I listened. 

For only a few days before I had been 
at a party where the lady in the limousine 
was present: and I wished that the girls 
might have been there too, and heard the 
remarks she made. 

She came dressed in a thousand dollars 
worth of clothes, with five or ten thousand 
dollars worth of jewels sprinkled over her. 
And, from the minute of her arrival until 
she left, her conversation consisted of 
nothing but cynicism and complaint. 

She had just moved into a new apart- 


A Limousine and a Tub 203 

merit: it was noisy, she said, and she hated 
it already. 

The limousine her husband had given 
her as a birthday surprise and he ought 
to have known that she loathed upholstery 
of that color. 

She had seen all the new shows, and they 
bored her to death. 

Of all the bitter, soul-sick people whom 
I have ever met she takes first prize: and 
the little shop-girls envied her. 

What feelings would have been in their 
hearts if they had lived in Athens about 
400 B. c., and had seen a poorly dressed 
man living in a wooden tub? 

Pity, probably : perhaps contempt. 

Yet, when Alexander the Great visited 
that man and offered him any favor in the 
world, the man replied that he wanted only 
one thing that Alexander should step 
out of his sunlight. 

A curious old world, is n t it, where a 
lady in her limousine, possessed of every 
thing, is still dissatisfied: and Diogenes in 
his tub, owning nothing, can be so content? 

We are on the threshold of a period 

204 It s a Good Old World 

when the struggle to get things is going to 
take on a new, perhaps more bitter, phase. 

The men who have carried the hard, un 
pleasant burdens of the world learned, dur 
ing the war, their power over the world. 

They have learned from Russia that the 
most strongly intrenched government can 
not stand against them. 

They have learned from England that 
Labor can dictate to Cabinets; in America, 
as Samuel Gompers says, they have made 
in three years a generation of progress. 

I do not see how any real lover of the 
race can fail to find satisfaction in this 
great forward movement of the common 

The movement will have its excesses: 
but has capitalism had no excesses? It 
will frequently prove expensive : but so has 
every previous regime. 

My fear for the common man is not that 
he will cost the world too much, but that, 
when he gets what he wants, he will find 
that he has still somehow failed of happi 

I would have him study a little the 

A Limousine and a Tub 205 

strange case of Diogenes, and of the 
limousine lady. 

Before he sets forth on his journey to 
the top, I would have him cut out these 
lines of Milton and paste them in his hat: 

He that has light within his own clear breast 
May sit in the center, and enjoy bright day; 

But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts 
Be-nighted wa^ks under the mid-day Sun ; 

Himself is his o\n dungeon. 

From the dungeons of poverty and hun 
ger and want the common man is going to 
be delivered : I would put him on his guard, 
lest, in escaping from these, he be plunged 
into the worse dungeon of spiritual death. 

His mind is filled now with the thought 
of a day when every one will have his own 

I ask him to remember that a world in 
which we all lived in tubs would be a first- 
class world, if we all had the spirit of 

And that where there is no vision the 
people perish just as surely as where there 
is no food. 




A VERY patriotic citizen came to me 
during the war, much perturbed. 

" These investigations in Washington 
are outrageous," he exclaimed. " Sup 
pose there have been mistakes; is that any 
reason why we should advertise them to 
our enemies? 

" Is there any sense in crying from the 
house-tops that we have only nine Brown 
ing machine-guns, and that our men are 
inadequately clothed and equipped? Such 
matters ought to be kept secret." 

And I remarked to him that in Germany 
such matters were kept secret. 

There are only two families living on the 
world s Main Street, I said to him. 

There is the Autocracy family, who keep 
the front gate locked and the front curtains 
drawn. The lawn looks tidy and the 

Democracy Is a New Show 207 

house is well kept; but no one knows 
what s going on behind those curtains. 

It may be only a friendly game of 
pinochle: but it may be counterfeiting, or a 
bomb plot, or murder. 

And there is the Old Widow Democ 
racy. Her lawn is covered with tin cans, 
and the children are scrapping all over it, 
and she does her washing right out on the 
front porch. 

But she s in sight every minute, and she 
has to be pretty honest, whether she wants 
to or not. 

One of the reasons we were fighting, I 
said to him, was to make the Autocracy 
family pull up those curtains, and bring 
their corn-cob pipes and their laundry out 
on the porch. 

And while our boys were over in Au 
tocracy s front yard, breaking the windows 
and letting sunlight into the back rooms, 
we didn t want anybody the President 
or anyone else to be staying at home 
and locking our doors or pulling our cur 
tains down. 

Public criticism is always noisy, some- 

208 It s a Good Old World 

times unpleasant, and frequently mistaken: 
but it is an inseparable feature of demo 
cratic control. And, in the long run, it 
works well even for the men who are 

And now, my dear Morley [wrote Gladstone 
to John Morley], there is one more thing I wish 
to say to you: Take it from me that to endure 
trampling on with patience and self-control is no 
bad element in the preparation of a man for 
walking firmly and successfully in the path of 
great public duty. Be sure that discipline is full 
of blessings. 

It is a good thing also for business. 

One of the great captains of industry of 
the old school died a few years ago. A 
little while before his death he attended a 
meeting of the directors of one of the coun 
try s largest industries. There he said 
something like this : 

" I am convinced that I have been 
wrong, and that you younger men who 
have stood for full publicity have been 
right. I am too old now to change : but 
if I had my life to live over again I would 

take the public into my confidence straight 

Most of all, publicity is a good thing for 

In the first place, it is necessary to open up the 
processes of our politics. They have been too 
secret, too complicated: they have consisted too 
much of private conference and secret under 
standings. If there is nothing to conceal, then 
why conceal it ? If it is a public game, then why 
play it in private ? Publicity is one of the purify 
ing elements of politics. 

The gentleman who made these remarks 
is now President of the United States 
the same gentleman whom many tender 
hearted people are seeking to shield from 
the publicity in which he so thoroughly 

Autocracy is a very old performance. 
When the curtain of history rose six or 
seven thousand years ago, kings were play 
ing their part in the spot-light, and they 
have been on the stage ever since. 

Democracy is a new show, still in re 
hearsal. Every individual citizen regards 

210 It s a Good Old World 

himself as the stage-manager, with full 
liberty to shout directions at the actors, or 
protest at the top of his voice that the 
performance is rotten. 

The result is noise and confusion; but 
there is no doubt that gradually the show 
is getting better, just the same. 




AS we rode up from Washington to 
gether a man who is a personal 
friend of President Wilson talked to me 
about him. 

" One thing that always impresses me," 
he said, " is the wonderful precision of his 
speech. His mind seems to reach out and 
grasp the needed word with unfaltering 
accuracy. I have never known him to hes 
itate for a word, or employ one that re 
quired the slightest modification or expla 

" I once asked him to what he attributed 
this power. 

" He answered that it was due to the 
early training of his father. 

" My father never allowed any mem 
ber of his household to use an incorrect 
expression, said the President. Any 


212 It s a Good Old World 

slip on the part of one of the children was 
at once corrected; any unfamiliar word 
immediately explained, and each of us en 
couraged to find a prompt use for it in our 
conversation so as to fix it in our mem 
ories. " 

As we stepped off the train and walked 
through the station, we passed a group of 
smartly dressed young women. Their 
conversation, as we caught it, was some 
what after this fashion: 
"Not re-eally?" 
" Sure. I thought I d die." 
" You don t mean it. Not re-eally." 
" Sure I tell you. I thought I d die." 
An unjust prejudice has grown up in 
the world against the man who talks well, 
and in favor of the wise-looking individual, 
who sits stolid, saying nothing. 

My observation is that, generally speak 
ing, poverty of speech is the outward evi 
dence of poverty of mind. 

The individual whose communication is 
confined to half a dozen worn expressions, 
has a mind that is not working. It is 
merely sliding along in well-oiled grooves. 

Your Conversation 213 

A mind constantly reaching out along 
new paths of thought, will of necessity find 
new language with which to clothe that 

There is a certain New York business 
man among my friends who makes it a rule 
to ask every applicant for a position " Can 
you write well? " 

A strange question, one would think, to 
put to a prospective elevator boy. Yet 
the man has a reason for it. 

" No man can write clearly," he says, 
" who does not think clearly. I want to 
see a man s mind at work before I give 
him a place in my organization." 

A mastery of good, clean-cut English is 
possible to anybody. 

One very good way to acquire it is by 
reading aloud. Select some author whose 
work is worth reading, and keep your mind 
fixed not merely on the meaning of the 
words but on the words themselves. 

Another good exercise is the one that 
Benjamin Franklin used. He would read 
a page from some English classic, and then, 
putting away the book, seek to reproduce it 

214 It s a Good Old World 

in writing. By comparing his own version 
with the original, he learned wherein he 
could improve. 

Emerson said that Montaigne s words 
had so much vitality that if one were to cut 
them they would bleed. 

Daniel Webster used to study the dic 
tionary as other men study the financial 

It paid him ; it will pay you. 

For good or ill, your conversation is 
your advertisement. 

Every time you open your mouth you let 
men look into your mind. Do they see it 
well clothed, neat, businesslike? 

Or is it slouching along in shoes run 
down at the heel, with soiled linen and 
frazzled trousers, shabbily seeking to 
avoid real work? 


STRANGE how a sound will some 
times set the chords of memory to vi 

It may be a woman s laugh, or a snatch 
of song, or even the barking of a dog at 

The other night I left the train two sta 
tions away from home, and started to walk 
the rest of the way across the hills. It 
began to snow after a little. From the 
houses along the road lights flickered 
through the haze; and as I rounded a 
curve, a little dog ran out and barked. 

In an instant my mind leaped back 
twenty years or more, to the days when I 
carried a newspaper-route in Boston. I 
remembered how long the way used to 
seem > two miles out and two miles back 
and how dark it was, in winter, when 
the sun had gone. And how I hated one 
newspaper that used to issue a great edi- 

216 It s a Good Old World 

tion of twenty-four pages on Saturday eve 
nings. The editors must be heartless crea 
tures, I thought to myself; surely they had 
never been boys and compelled to travel 
a paper-route. 

In a big house up on the hills, in the 
district where rich men lived, there were 
two dogs that every night barked at me. 

" Oh, they won t bite," said the owner. 
They bark, but they re perfectly good- 

How serenely confident every man is 
that his dog is perfectly good-natured! 

Every night I had to gird up my cour 
age to start out on that route, thinking 
of those two dogs that would run out and 
bark. I was just a little fellow, in short 
pants, and the space between my knees 
and my ankles seemed pathetically unpro 
tected just made for dogs to bite. 

The owner caught them snapping at me 
one night; and I remember yet how he 
laughed. It seemed to him a bully joke 
a little boy worried by two big barking 

I shall never forget that owner nor 

A Dog Runs Out and Barks 217 

the man whose house stood next to his. 

It was the night before Christmas. 
Snow was coming down, and it seemed 
more dark than usual, and the papers were 
heavy and the route more long. 

I had just come out of the yard of the 
man with the dogs, and as I stepped onto 
the porch of the next house, suddenly the 
door opened, and a big jolly-faced man 
stood smiling in the lamplight. 

" Hello, kid," he cried jovially. " I Ve 
been waiting for you. Do you know what 
day to-morrow is? " 

" Yes, sir," I answered. " It s Christ 

" Right you are," he shouted. " And 
here s something from Santa Claus." He 
opened his hand, and there was a big silver 

I do not know his name; I have not seen 
him in twenty years; but last night, walk 
ing home in the snow, I remembered him 
with a warm feeling around my heart. 
And I fell to thinking that I must be 
pretty nearly as big now as he was when 
he gave me that dollar, and about as old. 

And I wondered how I look to the kid 
that brings my paper and the other kids I 
meet, and whether I am the kind of man 
that is always too busy to take time to be 
kind to them or whether I am the kind 
that they would sort of like to run into, 
when it s cold, and the route is long, and 
the burden is heavy. 

And a dog runs out and barks. 


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